Introductory Statement:

The staff of St.Coen’s National School formulated this school plan for SPHE following amalgamation. This was done in consultation with our Board of Management and our parents, as we believe that SPHE is a shared responsibility and their contributions and involvement will be essential to the effective implementation of the SPHE programme in the school.


Aspects of SPHE have been taught in St.Joseph’s Girls National School and St.Ernan’s Boys National School for many years through various programmes and initiatives such as Stay Safe, Walk Tall, Relationships and Sexuality Education. It has also been taught through integration with other subject areas such as Physical Education, Religion, Geography, etc. However, we wish to review our teaching of SPHE and plan for it on a whole school basis following our amalgamation to ensure consistency and compliance with D.E.S. guidelines.


As per our vision statement, SPHE in St.Coen’s National School should enable each child to work together in a supportive respectful partnership within an inclusive school environment, respect themselves and others, to relate to self and others and to become an active citizen in society.


The children of St. Coen’s N.S. should be enabled to achieve the aims outlined in the SPHE curriculum, which include:

  • To promote the personal development and well-being of the child.
  • To foster in the child a sense of care and respect for himself/herself and others and an appreciation of the dignity of every human being.
  • To promote the health of the child and provide a foundation for healthy living in all its aspects.
  • To enable the child to make informed decisions and choices about the social, personal and health dimensions of life both now and in the future.
  • To develop in the child a sense of social responsibility, a commitment to active and participative citizenship and an appreciation of the democratic way of life.
  • To enable the child to respect human and cultural diversity and to appreciate and understand the interdependent nature of the world.


1. Strands and Strand Units:

  • The curriculum is delineated at Infants, first & second, third and fourth, and fifth and sixth classes—and is divided into three strands: Myself, Myself and others, and Myself and the wider world.
  • Each of these strands is further subdivided into a number of strand units or topic areas that contain particular objectives.
  • St.Coen’s N.S. will teach aspects of all three major strand units each year and strand units will be chosen in such a way that the child will receive a comprehensive programme in SPHE over a two- year period.

St.Coen’s has created this timetable to reflect this approach:

  • Strand Units (Year 1)
  • Strand Units (Year 2)


  • Self-Identity (Sept-Oct)
  • Taking Care of my Body(Nov/Dec)
  • Growing and Changing (May/June)
  • Growing and Changing (May/June) 4th – 6th classes
  • J.I & 1st : Safety Issues: Water/Fire/Road Making Decisions (Nov/Dec)
  • Safety & protection (Jan/Feb)

Myself and Others:

  • Myself & my Family (March/April)
  • My friends and other people (Nov-Dec)
  • Relating to Others (Sept/Oct)

Myself and the wider world:

  • Developing Citizenship (Jan/Feb)
  • Media Education (May-June)
  • Year 1: 2020/21 - Year 2: 2021/22
  • Year 1: 2022/23 - Year 2: 2023/24

2. Contexts for SPHE:

SPHE will be taught in and through a combination of the following three contexts:

(i) Positive School Climate and Atmosphere

In St. Coen’s N.S., through the Code of Behaviour, we aim to create a positive, safe and happy atmosphere by:

  • building effective communication
  • catering for individual needs
  • creating a health-promoting physical environment
  • developing democratic processes (class rules and contracts)
  • enhancing self-esteem
  • fostering respect for diversity
  • fostering inclusive and respectful language
  • developing appropriate communication
  • developing a school approach to assessment

(ii) Discrete time for SPHE

SPHE is allocated ½ hour per week on each teacher’s timetable in St. Coen’s N.S. However teachers may allocate 1 hour per fortnight to allow for more indepth exploration of a strand unit. The Growing and Changing Strand is taught each year in 4th – 6th class using discretionary time.

(iii) Integration with other subject areas and Linkage within SPHE

Teachers will endeavour to adopt a thematic approach to SPHE by integrating it with other subject areas such as Language (Media Education), Geography (Citizenship), History (Myself and my Family), Religion (Decisions), Visual Arts, Physical Education (Water Safety), etc. Themes/Projects such as Lenten Campaign, etc. will also be explored.

3. Approaches and Methodologies:

St. Coen’s N.S. believe that the approaches and methodologies used in SPHE are crucial to the effectiveness of the programme. Active learning is the principal learning and teaching approach recommended for SPHE, therefore we will endeavour to teach SPHE using a variety of strategies which include:

  • drama activities
  • co-operative games
  • use of pictures
  • photographs and visual images
  • written activities
  • use of media
  • information technologies and looking at children’s work

(page 57 Teacher Guidelines)

4. Assessment:

Assessment is a central part of the everyday learning and teaching process in SPHE. It can provide valuable information on the child’s progress and on the effectiveness and suitability of the programme and the teaching methods being used.

St.Coen’s N.S. uses some of the following recommended informal tools for assessment in SPHE.

Teacher observation; Teacher observation might focus on:

  • the ability of the child to co-operate and work in groups or to work independently
  • the informal interactions between the child and adults and between the child and other children
  • the quality of presentation of work
  • particular interests or aptitudes displayed by the child
  • the participation and interest of the child in a variety of activities
  • the level of personal or social responsibility exhibited by the child
  • the reliability of the child in carrying out established routines
  • the perseverance of the child in carrying out a task
  • the child’s awareness of the difficulties of others and his willingness to help
  • the questions the child asks and the responses the child makes to questions and suggestions made by the teacher
  • various behaviour, for example shyness, leadership ability, level of selfconfidence, the tendency to be anxious, sense of fair play, assertiveness, aggression, readiness to take risks and meet challenges
  • physical and emotional maturity
  • the ability of the child to engage in assessing his progress and reflecting on his learning.
  • Teacher-designed tasks and tests: including personal profiles
  • Portfolios and projects

5. Children with Different Needs:

Teachers will endeavour to adapt and modify activities and methodologies in SPHE to encourage participation by children with special needs. The SEN teachers will supplement the work of the class teachers where necessary.St. Coen’s N.S. will liaise through the principal with trained professionals/appropriate agencies when dealing with sensitive issues such as bereavement or loss to ensure that the children involved are fully supported.

6. Equality of Participation and Access:

St. Coen’s N.S. recognises and values diversity, and believes all children are entitled to access the services, facilities, or amenities that are available in the school environment. Ours is a co-educational school and we endeavour to challenge traditional stereotypes through various activities. St. Coen’s N.S, is under Roman Catholic school management, and we endeavour to provide for Members of Travelling community, Children with disabilities, Families with literacy difficulties, Children who are learning English as a second language, those coming from disadvantaged backgrounds and those of other religions or none.

7. Policies and Programmes that support SPHE:

  • Code of Behaviour
  • Enrolment Policy
  • Health and Safety Policy
  • Relationships and Sexuality Education Policy Statement Anti-bullying Policy
  • Healthy Eating Policy
  • Substance Use Policy
  • Child Protection Policy

8. Homework:

SPHE homework, if prescribed in SPHE, will reflect the active learning approach and will reinforce information already taught during class.

9. Resources:

All resources will be selected in accordance with the critera laid down on page 103 of the Teacher Guidelines.

Programmes and Other Materials:

  • Books for Pupils
  • Books for Teachers
  • Posters Media & ICT
  • Walk Tall
  • Stay Safe
  • Be Safe
  • R.S.E. Books
  • Making the Links
  • Lift-Off/Me,You & Everyone
  • Bí Folláin
  • Inside the Co-operative Classroom
  • Webwise

Guest Speakers:

Guest speakers may be used to enhance the work being done by the class teacher. When a guest speaker addresses the children in SPHE, the class teacher will remain in the classroom. The speaker will be made aware of this school plan and attached policies. Criteria for selecting guest speakers will be in accordance with the recommendations on page 32 of the Teacher Guidelines.

10. Individual Teachers’ Planning and Reporting:

This plan in SPHE and the curriculum documents will inform and guide teachers in their long and short term planning in SPHE. This planning will be in line with the year grid on page 3 of this plan. Each teacher will keep a Cuntas Míosúil and this will inform our progress and needs when evaluating and reviewing our progress in SPHE.

11. Staff Development:

Some of the staff have attended training in the following areas and this training will support an effective implementation of the SPHE programme:

  • training in the Child Abuse Prevention Programme/ Stay Safe
  • training in the Substance Misuse programme /Walk Tall
  • training in the Relationships and Sexuality Education programme /R.S.E.
  • training in Circle work

Teachers are encouraged to attend SPHE related courses and will share information/skills acquired at these courses with other members of staff during staff meetings.

12. Parental Involvement:

Parental involvement is considered an integral part to effectively implementing SPHE as St. Coen’s. N.S. believe that SPHE is a shared responsibilty. This plan and the curriculum documents are available for parents to inform them of the programme for SPHE.

13. Community Links:

St. Coen’s N.S. believe that the local community has a very important role to play in supporting the programme in SPHE and endeavour to liaise with the members such as the Community Garda, Fireman, Parent Association, Sports clubs, etc.

Success Criteria

The success of this plan will be evaluated through teacher’s planning and preparation, and if the procedures outlined in this plan have been consistently followed. We will also judge its success if the children have been enabled to achieve the aims outlined in this plan.


(a) Roles and Responsibilities:

St.Coen’s N.S. believes that the school community must be involved to successfully implement SPHE. Therefore the teaching staff will implement this plan with the support of the Board of Management, Parents and the Local Community.

(b) Timeframe:

The plan will be implemented beginning in September 2020

Ratification and Communication


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.

Mary Murphy
Chairperson BOM
Date: 25/2/2021

Lee Kavanagh
Principal/Secretary BOM
Date: 25/2/2021