The Department of Education is to introduce new guidelines next year for how sex education is taught in schools.

Online resources for teaching, a focus on the positive aspects of relationships and sexuality and the importance of consent are among the changes being considered.

The Government has not yet decided if the curriculum will be revised, but it said if there are changes they will not be made without further public consultation.

Minister for Education Joe McHugh said that the ethos of the school will be protected.

"We want to embed in this that it is not a directive, that every school has to follow a certain specific analysis of how we treat this subject," he said.

Mr McHugh said that while there is a need to equip young people with the information they need, there will be an emphasis on age appropriateness.

He said there is "uncomfortableness" about this and that a support system and language that helps students, parents and teachers through these conversations was needed.

It follows the publication of a report by the National Council for Curriculum and Assessment, which reviewed the current Relationship and Sexuality Education (RSE) programme that has been taught in primary and secondary schools since the 1990s by speaking to young people, parents, teachers and a variety of organisations over the past 18 months.

Issues such as contraception, LGBT+ matters, safe internet use and the effect of social media on relationships and self-esteem were also considered as part of this review.

Mr McHugh said that RSE is a vital and sensitive area of education and that he wanted to assure people that there would be further consultation, before any changes to the curriculum were finalised.

He said the report shows that students felt there was an inadequacy around RSE and that parents want more support around this issue.

It is expected the minister will make a decision on the report in the New Year but it could be a year or two before any curriculum changes are implemented.

The review of the RSE began following a recommendation of the Citizen's Assembly on the Eighth Amendment.

RSE began following a recommendation of the Citizen's Assembly on the Eighth Amendment.