One of the overall aims of the agricultural science curriculum at Leaving Certificate level is to promote farm safety, according to Minister for Education, Norma Foley.

A focus of the curriculum if for students to “develop their scientific knowledge and skills, in the context of agricultural practices, and increase their awareness of health and safety issues associated with these practices”.

The minister was responding (written) to a parliamentary question on the inclusion of a farm safety section in the agricultural science curriculum at secondary school level from Deputy Colm Burke.

Minister Foley said that a key part of the curriculum at Leaving Certificate level is the concept of working safely, and that specific learning outcomes are dedicated to safe working practices in agriculture.

“The prominence of farm safety in the over-arching strand anticipates student engagement with farm safety as part of their ongoing learning in the agricultural science course.”

Farm safety at primary school

In relation to farm-safety teachings at primary school, the minister said it is her department’s priority to enable children, through the curriculum, to be aware of situations that may cause them harm.

“Farms and farm safety are specifically mentioned at all stages in social personal and health education (SPHE) curriculum at primary level, for example,” she said.

“In infant classes, children should be enabled to identify situations and places that are safe and those where personal safety might be at risk; and to explore how accidents might be prevented at home, in school, on the farm, or in the water.

“For first and second class, the child should be enabled to become familiar with and understand the need to adhere to safety rules that apply in school, at home, on the farm, in water, for his/her own safety and that of others

In third and fourth class, the child should be enabled to explore and examine how accidents are caused, identify ways in which some of these can be prevented, and the appropriate action to be taken if an accident or emergency occurs at home, in school, on the farm, at the seaside, said the minister.

And at fifth and sixth class level the child should be able to identify and explore some potential risks to health and safety in the environment traffic, pollution, chemicals, ultraviolet light.

“And to identify the substances in the home and school or on the farm that may be dangerous if not used properly and ensure that he/she has learned a safety strategy for dealing with unknown and dangerous substances.”

The minister also made reference to the additional work being done through external programmes run by groups such as Agri Aware.

“As with all resources developed by external providers, schools have the autonomy to choose whichever resources, if any, are most appropriate to support their teaching and the needs of pupils in their own unique contexts.”