RELATIONSHIP AND SEXUALITY EDUCATION POLICY
This policy is an approved approach to the teaching of Relationships and Sexuality Education (RSE) in St. Coen’s NS. It was developed to inform teachers and parents as to what material is covered in the RSE programme within SPHE.
Our school values the uniqueness of all individuals within a caring school community. We recognise that SPHE is intrinsic to the learning and teaching that occurs both formally and informally in the school and in the classroom. Through our SPHE programme we wish to assist children to develop feelings of self-worth and self-confidence while encouraging their ability to relate to others in a positive way. The programme also encourages children to be aware of their rights as individual while at the same time accepting responsibility for their actions as members of the school and the wider community. Parents have the primary role in the social, personal and health education of their children so their involvement will be encouraged as much as possible.
Definition of RSE
Relationship and Sexuality education (RSE) aims to provide opportunities for children and young people to learn about relationships and sexuality in ways that help them think and act in a moral, caring and responsible way (Going Forward Together Parent’s Information Booklet, page 4).
Relationship of RSE to SPHE
Social, Personal and Health Education (SPHE) provides opportunities for pupils to learn basic personal and social skills which foster integrity, self-confidence and self-esteem while nurturing sensitivity to the feelings and rights of others.
Current Provision Included in the school curriculum is:
- SPHE lessons (provided through discrete curricular time and integration)
- Use of the RSE Manuals and Busy Body resources
- Stay safe Programme / Walk Tall Programme
- Religious Education
Aims of our RSE programme:
- To help young people develop healthy friendships and relationships
- To promote a healthy attitude to sexuality and to relationships
- To enhance the personal development, self-esteem and well-being of the child
- To foster an understanding of, and a healthy attitude to, human sexuality and relationships in a moral, spiritual and social framework
- To enable the child to acquire an understanding of, and respect for, human love, sexual intercourse and reproduction- Fifth and Sixth Class
- To understand the physical changes taking place with the onset of puberty- Senior Classes
- To develop and promote in the child a sense of wonder and awe at the process of birth and new life.
- To enable the child to be comfortable with the sexuality of oneself and others while growing and developing.
We support the aims on which RSE is modelled. We encourage good behaviour, open communication, understanding and tolerance of differences, and respect for self and others. We recognise that both pupils and staff have rights and responsibilities in our school. A sense of responsibility is fostered and attention is paid to the wellbeing of all of the members of the school community.
Policies which support SPHE/RSE:
- Child Protection Policy
- Code of behaviour and discipline
- Anti-Bullying Policy
- Enrolment Policy
- Acceptable Use Policy
Guidelines for the Management and Organisation of RSE in our School
Curriculum Content – The curriculum by NCCA will be followed as published, and will be taught from infants to 6thclass. All resources used will be in keeping with the ethos of the school, the whole school plan for SPHE and the RSE policy. Each class teacher will teach the content for their class level each year as laid out in the curriculum, and utilizing the RSE manuals to complement their teaching.
- Parents will be informed that the school fully implements the RSE strands of the SPHE programme at enrolment.
- Parents will be informed in advance of lessons on the sensitive areas of the RSE programme.
- The letter will be issued in advance, giving parents an opportunity to meet with relevant class teachers to discuss what is covered and to prepare their children. It also gives parents an opportunity to become involved, to inform themselves of the programme content and to prepare children for the information they will acquire around the sensitive areas and discuss areas covered in RSE/SPHE.
- Parents are invited/welcome to view the curriculum and may speak to the class teacher if they have any concerns at any time during the year.
- Special consideration will be taken to ensure that the needs of children with SEN are met. Taking into account the pupil’s social and emotional development, instruction will be based on individual needs where possible. Parents will be consulted around sensitive issues.
RSE forms part of the national curriculum for SPHE by NCCA and will be taught from infants to 6th class. RSE will be covered under the following strands and strand units of the SPHE curriculum.
The RSE programme is divided into two main parts:
- Growing and changing
- Taking care of my body
The general programme contains content such as:
- Growing up
The second section will deal with any sensitive / specific content.
Topics covered up to 2nd include:
- Keeping Safe
- Bodily changes during grown and birth (birth-9)
- Making age appropriate choices
- Appreciating the variety of family types and the variety of family life that exists in our school and community
- Recognising and expressing feelings
- Self-care, hygiene, diet, exercise and sleep
- Expressing opinions and listening to others
- Naming the parts of the male/ female body using appropriate anatomical terms (Junior/ Senior Infants) Naming the parts of the male/ female body using appropriate anatomical terms and identify some of their functions (1st/2nd)
Topics from 3rd to 6th include:
- Bodily changes
- Healthy eating, personal hygiene, exercise
- Keeping Safe
- Expressing Feelings
- Appreciating the variety of family types within our school and community and how we these family relationships shape us
- Making healthy and responsible decisions
- Forming Friendships
- Discuss the stages and sequence of development of the human baby in the womb(4thclass)
- Introduction to puberty and changes (4thclass)
- Changes that occur in boys and girls with the onset of puberty (Fifth Class) *Reproductive system of male/female adults (Sixth Class)
- *Understanding sexual intercourse, conception and birth within the context of a committed loving relationship (Sixth Class)*
The RSE lessons are taught incrementally to support the appropriate and supportive development of the children and from 4th – 6th the following arrangements apply:
Fourth class lessons from RSE manuals – introduction to Puberty and Menstruation is not covered in 4th class, but if teachers are concerned that girls are entering puberty and need this information, they will inform and provide support for parents
Fifth class boys and girls will be taught the lesson on puberty for boys and girls together by the classroom teacher, followed by the use of a question box to place any questions the children might have. The following week boys and girls will be separated and taught by the classroom teacher and another teacher to foster and encourage an openness when answering the questions and any further reflections from children or questions will be dealt with. The classroom teacher will conclude the lessons with an overview of what was covered, and encourage an openness to feel safe to ask follow up questions
Sixth class boys and girls retaught the lesson on puberty and taught the lessons on reproduction through the use of an outside speaker, or class teacher, or principal or other teacher. The teacher remains present for the lessons, and will be able to support the children in follow up lessons and discussions. As a follow up to the once off visit from the outside speaker, and understanding the nature of how children learn, a teacher will review and reteach the 6th class boys and girls the lesson on puberty for boys and girls, reproduction together by the classroom teacher, followed by the use of a question box to place any questions the children might have. The following week boys and girls will be separated and taught by the classroom teacher and another teacher to foster and encourage an openness when answering the questions and any further reflections from children or questions will be dealt with. The classroom teacher will conclude the lessons with an overview of what was covered, and encourage an openness to feel safe to ask follow up questions. Sixth class boys and girls taught the lesson on reproduction through the use of an outside speaker, or classroom teacher, or principal or other teacher. The teacher remains present for the lessons, and will be able to support the children in follow up lessons and discussions.
Topics such as sexually transmitted diseases, contraception, masturbation and abortion are not covered in the primary school RSE programme.
Approaches & Methodologies:
When implementing the programme, staff at St. Coen’s National School will endeavour to display respect for and sensitivity towards the different cultural family backgrounds experienced by the children. The curriculum will be taught in an age-appropriate manner at all times. The curriculum will be taught from Junior Infants to 6th class. It will be taught through a spiral curriculum (key topics will be revisited in a developmental manner at regular intervals). The materials taught will reflect the needs of the children.
The RSE curriculum will be taught through:
- Stories and poems, classroom discussion, group work, games, art activities, reflection, circle-time.
- The approach in school is child-centred and will always take the age and stage of development of the children into account.
- Appropriate vocabulary relating to sexuality, growing up, physical changes, parts of the body and feeling will be used.
- The use of slang will be discouraged.
- Questions arising from lesson content will be answered in an age-appropriate manner.
- The class teacher cannot answer questions which do not relate to the particular curriculum objectives for a class.
- Pupils will be informed if a question/issue is not on the programme and they will be advised to talk with their parents.
- Teachers may exercise discretion to contact parents themselves if they feel that a question is very inappropriate.
Staff should not invalidate questions but use limits:
When deciding whether it is appropriate to answer a question or not the teacher should consider:
- If the question is a moral one, while being sensitive of different religious and non-religious backgrounds will refer the child to speak to their parents or guardians or to the Catholic teaching
- It will be our policy not to answer personal questions about ourselves
- A question is an opportunity to clarify, to teach and to reassure and in line with the SPHE curriculum which aims to equip children with attributes and skills necessary to live a democratic way of live with individual and group rights and responsibilities
- I’ll do my best to answer your questions but I may not be able to answer all of them
- That’s something you’ll learn about as you get older
- Is that something you could talk to your parents / guardians / family
- We agreed in our contract that we wouldn’t ask anyone personal questions.
For older children a ‘question box’ will be used as part of a structured RSE lesson. Teachers can follow up on the written questions at a later date, thus allowing time to prepare suitable answers, consult with colleagues, etc.
If issues arise which might be seen to contravene Children’s First Guidelines, the teacher will notify the designated liaison person in the school.
- Parents will be expected to follow up and discuss topics covered in school and this will be facilitated through communication around programmes and homework.
- Regular contact will be made with parents prior to the teaching of lessons involving the ‘sensitive elements’ of the RSE programme, (Enrolment and letter in advance of the lessons).
- The school acknowledges that parents have the primary responsibility for educating their children about growing and changing.
- If a child is withdrawn from the teaching of sensitive issues, we cannot guarantee that the other children will not tell or inform him/her about what happened.
Relationships and Sexuality Education Manuals (DES). Each class teacher has a copy of the appropriate manual or access to it in online / pdf format. Other resources that support the broader aims of RSE include:
- Stay Safe programme.
- Walk Tall Programme.
- Busy Bodies DVD and booklet. This DVD and booklet were developed to support the teaching of the 5thand 6thclass component of RSE within the context of SPHE.
- All resources are available for parents/guardians to view if they so request prior to the delivery of the lesson.
- Use of inclusive language and methodologies on a variety of family types.
Provision of Ongoing Support:
- Opportunities provided by Blackrock Education Centre will be brought to the attention of staff members. Teachers will be encouraged to attend CPD in RSE.
- Staff meetings utilised as a platform for discussion and development of RSE materials.
- RSE teacher checklist to be completed to ascertain levels of competence and confidence each time policy is reviewed.
- Peer observation opportunities for staff to develop confidence.
- The policy will be reviewed after every two years.
- The policy may also be reviewed at an earlier time should a need arise.
- Parents and staff will be informed of any amendments made.
This policy was ratified by the Board of Management on: 25/2/2021.