RSE Policy


Introductory Statement This policy was initially formulated by the teachers and then reviewed by the RSE committee set up to facilitate consultation among the parents. The teachers decided the content of the programmes, when to teach it, who would teach it and appropriate language to be used. Rationale What is RSE? Relationships and Sexuality Education encompasses the acquisition of knowledge and understanding, and the development of attitudes, beliefs and values about relationships, sexual identity and intimacy.

Relationships and Sexuality Education seeks to provide children with opportunities to acquire knowledge and understanding of relationships and human sexuality, through processes which will enable them to form values and establish behaviours within moral, spiritual and social framework.

RSE is an integral part of SPHE Relationships and Sexuality Education (RSE) is an integral part of Social, Personal and Health Education (SPHE) and must be taught in this context. It provides structured opportunities for pupils to acquire knowledge and understanding of human sexuality and relationships through processes which will enable them to form values and establish behaviours within a moral, spiritual and social framework. In particular, it addresses the meaning of human sexuality, relationships, growth and development, relevant personal and social skills and aspects of parenting.

Central to Relationships and Sexuality Education is the fostering of selfesteem, through which the pupil becomes more responsible in making choices and decisions in all aspects of life, and particularly in those relating to sexuality and relationships.

Relationship to Characteristic Spirit of School Our school values the uniqueness of all individuals within a caring school community. Through our RSE 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 individuals while at the same time accepting responsibility for their actions as members of the school and wider community. Parents have the primary role in the Relationships and Sexuality Education of their children so their involvement will be encouraged as much as possible. This programme is relevant and accessible to all pupils regardless of age, culture, disability, gender, religion or social class.

Aims The aims of RSE are:
 To enhance the personal development, self-esteem and well being of the child.
 To help the child to develop healthy friendships and relationships
 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.
 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.
Broad Objectives of the RSE programme The RSE programme should enable the child:
 To acquire and develop knowledge and understanding of self.
 To develop a positive sense of self-awareness, self-esteem and self-worth.
 To develop an appreciation of the dignity, uniqueness and well-being of others.
 To understand the nature, growth and development of relationships within families, in friendships and in wider contexts.
 To develop an awareness of differing family patterns
 To come to value family life and appreciate the responsibilities of parenthood.
 To develop strategies to make decisions, solve problems and implement actions in various personal, social and health contexts.
 To become aware of the variety of ways in which individuals grow and change, and to understand that their developing sexuality is an important aspect of self-identity.
 To develop personal skills which will help them to establish and sustain healthy personal relationships.
 To develop some coping strategies to protect themselves and others from various forms of abuse.
 To acquire and improve skills of communication and social interaction.
 To acquire and use an appropriate vocabulary to discuss feelings, sexuality, growth and development.
 To develop in the child a critical understanding of external influences on lifestyles and decision making.

Guidelines Delivery of Programme We recognise that parents are the primary educators of their children, and that the home is the natural environment in which RSE should take place. The role of the school, therefore, is seen as one of support for the work of the home in this area.

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 feelings will be used. The use of slang words will be discouraged.

The RSE programme will be taught the last week of every month over a two year cycle. All parents will be asked to sign a consent form allowing children to participate in the RSE programme. Children with special needs will be taken into consideration when planning class lessons and related activities.

Our RSE programme is inclusive and so we actively discourage withdrawal. Should a parent seek to have their child withdrawn from the RSE lessons, the school will take account of parental concerns, and parents’ right to withdraw their child from themes pertaining to sensitive issues will be honoured on the understanding that the parent(s) is taking full responsibility for this aspect of education themselves. Parents must seek to have their child withdrawn from RSE lessons in written form.

We also recognise that teachers have the right to withdraw from teaching this programme. We will make appropriate arrangements to facilitate this should the situation arise.
In each class, age appropriate and sensitive topics and language will be taught. See Overview of RSE Content (Appendix 1) and Language & Themes (Appendix 2).

Teacher Involvement
The teachers discussed and clarified what topics and appropriate language will be taught for each class level. If teachers are concerned about any aspect of the school’s programme for the RSE elements of SPHE they should discuss this with the principal. If teachers are uncomfortable with any RSE elements of SPHE they have the right to withdraw and the school will make alternative, appropriate arrangements to ensure the programme is covered, e.g., If a teacher decides to opt out from teaching specific areas of the RSE curriculum a colleague may then teach these lessons to the class.

A guest speaker may teach the sensitive areas of the RSE programme with 5th/6th class (depending on numbers). Written consent must be received from all parents before participation in these sessions with guest speaker. The class teacher will give the guest speaker the overview of the 5th/6th class content to ensure he/she works within the school policy. The guest speaker will also meet with parents to explain the details of each lesson.
Parental Involvement If parents are concerned about any aspect of the school’s programme for the RSE elements of SPHE they are welcome to ask questions and to opt out if they so wish. If a parent would like to withdraw a child from the RSE programme the class teacher will meet with the parent and discuss areas the child can be withdrawn from. The teacher will clarify all material covered and ensure consultation with the parent about the arrangements for withdrawing his/her child/children. As with all of our plans and policies, parents have access to this RSE policy on request.

Puberty Pubertal issues may be addressed in 5th/6th class, by the guest speaker. If class numbers are large these issues will be dealt with in 6th class only. Girls and boys will not be separated to discuss gender specific issues about puberty.
Dealing with questions If children have questions they are answered honestly and sensitively bearing in mind the ethos of the school. Questions arising from lesson content will be answered in an age-appropriate and sensitive 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.
Confidentiality Pupils in 5th/6th class will be encouraged not to discuss sensitive issues with children outside their class group. The class teacher will be present at all times to monitor questions and ensure policies are adhered to.
St. Mary’s N.S., Arvagh follows the Department of Education and Science Child Protection Guidelines and Procedures which are based on Children First, National Guidelines for the Protection and Welfare of Children. Where a child discloses alleged abuse to a staff member, or a teacher has any concerns about a child, the school authorities will follow our Child Protection Policy. The person receiving that information should listen carefully and supportively. Great care must be taken not to abuse the child’s trust. This should not be a formal interview. Our principal, Edel Cadam, is our Designated Liaison Person and viceprincipal, Donna Harten, is our Deputy DLP.

The following advice is offered:
a. Listen to the child.
b. Do not ask leading questions or make suggestions to the child.
c. Offer reassurance but do not make promises.
d. Do not stop a child recalling significant events.
e. Do not over-react.
f. Confidentiality should not be assured – explain that further help may have to be sought.
g. Record the discussion accurately noting;
 What, where and when?  Descriptions and possible sketches of physical injuries.  Explanations of injuries using direct quotations if appropriate.  Retain the record securely
h. The staff member should obtain only necessary relevant facts. It is not the responsibility of school personnel to investigate allegations of abuse.
i. The DLP (Edel Cadam) should then be informed and given relevant records.
j. If the suspected abuser is the DLP then the suspicion and any records will be passed on to the Chairperson who will proceed as per guidelines.

Assessment of materials/videos/DVD’s The teacher will previously assess and view all videos, posters and worksheets that will be used in class.

Success Criteria The policy will positively affect teaching and learning in our school. All teachers are encouraged to adopt an approach which is genuine, open and respectful. This will enable children to put into practice the skills learned and the knowledge acquired. It is our aim that this policy will encourage the effective organisation of the school, by when and by whom RSE will be taught. This is a structured plan agreed by all teachers and therefore, it will ensure all pupils receive adequate RSE instruction.

Assessment of Policy  The teachers will discuss this policy at the end of the two year cycle. Any changes/amendments will be discussed and arrangements will be made to review the existing policy.

Roles and Responsibility The Board of Management of St. Mary’s N.S., Arvagh supports the implementation of the RSE programme. We recognise that our school has a supportive role to that of the home and we have a commitment to ensuring that:
 Our teachers have access to in-career development opportunities.  Relevant teaching materials are provided.  Each teacher will work with parents to support them in whatever way is necessary.

The SPHE post holder will co-ordinate the progress of the policy, encourage and accept feedback on its implementation and report back to staff. The policy will be monitored on an ongoing basis by the staff and will be evaluated at the end of the two year cycle.
Timeframe for Implementation and Review The policy will be implemented from April 2013. It will be reviewed in June 2015, at the end of the two year cycle. The principal, staff, pupils, parents, Board of Management and SPHE post holder will be responsible for the review of this policy.
Ratification and Communication This policy was ratified by the Chairperson of the B.O.M and communicated to the B.O.M in April 2013. The staff have been informed of changes to this policy and it will be implemented with immediate effect.
………………………………………………… ……………… Chairperson of Board of Management Date
…………………………….. ……………… Principal Date

Appendix 1
Relationships & Sexuality Education Overview of Content
Junior Infants and Senior Infants
Strand: Strand Unit Myself: I am Unique – Develop a positive sense of self esteem – Developing and expressing self confidence – Realise that people are special and unique just as they are.
My Body – Name parts of the male and female body using appropriate anatomical terms. – Become aware growth is unique for each individual.
As I grow I change – Become aware of physical changes as growth or development takes place. – Acknowledge decisions made by self and others.
Strand: Strand Unit New Life
– Become aware of new life in the world. – Explore birth in the animal world. – Develop an awareness of human birth. – Identify what babies need to help them to grow.
Keeping Safe
– Explore safety strategies. – Feel secure to ask for help. – Discuss occasions when lost. – Recognise that rules exist in family, school and community to keep children and others safe. – Identify situations and places that are safe and those where personal safety might be at risk.
Feelings and Emotions
– To name a variety of emotions which are experienced and explore how they are expressed. – Identify situations where feelings may be experienced. – Discuss and cope with losing something special.
Making Decisions
– Identify some everyday choices made by self and others. – Begin to develop awareness of factors which may influence choices made or decisions taken.
Myself and Others
Myself and my family – Identify people who constitute a family. – Explore all the things families do together. – Recognise roles of different family members and understand that these roles may vary.
Myself and my friends
– Identify, discuss and appreciate friends. – Discuss and examine different aspects of friendship. – Resolve conflicts that may arise with friends. – Recognise those who may be isolated in their immediate environments.
Special people in my life – Identify, discuss and appreciate all the people considered special, both within and outside of the family circle. – Explore and examine why these people are special.
Relating to others Communicating – Listen accurately to messages or directions. – Listen to give and take turns in speaking and listening. – Talk about a wide range of everyday experiences and feelings. – Use language, gestures and other behaviours to perform social functions.
Sharing and co-operating – Learn to share and co-operate with others.
Resolving conflict – Resolve conflicts, learn to listen to others, to apologise and accept apologies, to compromise and forgive.
1st & 2nd Class
Strand: Myself – Strand Units Content
– I am unique. – Self Esteem – Developing and expressing self confidence.
– My Body
– Name parts of the male and female body using appropriate anatomical terms, and identify some of its functions. – become aware that growth is unique for each individual.
– As I grow I change
– Compare and contrast the development of social, intellectual skills and other abilities from infancy onwards. – Become aware of physical changes as growth or development take place.
– New Life
– Become aware of new life in the world. – New growth in Spring. – Children and animals being born. – Baby animals been fed. – Understand that reproduction, birth, life, growth and death are all part of the cycle of life.
– Personal Safety
– Recognise and explore situations where children feel safe and those where safety might be at risk. – Explore safety strategies. – Feel secure enough to ask for help.
– Feelings and Emotions
– To identify and name a variety of feelings and emotions which are experienced.
– Making Decisions
– Identify some everyday choices made by self and those which are made by others. – Begin to develop some awareness of factors which may influence choices made or decisions taken.
Strand: Myself and Others
Strand Units Content – My Family
– Identify the people who constitute a family – Recognise the roles of different members of families and understand that these roles may vary.
– My Friends
– Identify, discuss and appreciate friends – Resolve conflicts that may arise with friends
– Special People in my Life – Explore and examine why these people are special.
– Relating to others
– Listen accurately to directions – Use Language, gestures and other appropriate behaviours to perform social functions.
– Sharing and Co-operating – Learn to share and co-operate with others.
– Resolving Conflict
– Learn to resolve conflict.
3rd & 4th Class
Myself Strand Unit:  Self Esteem (Special Gifts)  My Family.  Expressing feelings – opportunities to learn how to cope with feelings.  Particularly those which they find difficult to manage.  Personal hygiene.  Birth and new life.  Discuss stages and sequence of development of the human baby from conception to birth.
As I grow I Change
 Understand the physical (height, strength) emotional and social changes.  Recognise how independence and responsibilities are continually increasing.
Knowing about my body
 Realise the importance of caring for and treating his/her own body and that of others, with dignity and respect.
Personal Safety
 Identify people, places and situations that may threaten personal safety.  People who can help us.  Recognise that rules exist for a reason and to understand the consequences for breaking them.  Realise that he/she can have a role to play in keeping others safe.
Myself and Others Strand Unit:  Relating to others.  Friendship  Explore what happens when friends fall out.  Learn about bullying, why it occurs and ways of dealing with it.  Different aspects of friendship (loyalty, respect)
Making Decisions
 Make decisions and discuss factors which influence personal decisions and choices.  Opportunities to discuss how problems can be solved.
 Recognise that not all people will make the same decisions all the time.
Roles of Males and Females in Society
 Examine the traditional roles assigned to boys and girls and become aware of ways of counteracting this stereotyping.  Everyone is equal.
 Listen carefully and reflectively to others.  Give and take turns in listening and speaking.  Tolerance and respect for the views of others.  Use language, gestures and other appropriate behaviours to perform social functions.
5th & 6th Class
May be taught by an outside speaker:
Myself: Strand Unit: Knowing about my body:  Recognise the importance of treating his/her body and that of others with dignity and respect.  Identify and discuss the physical and other changes that occur in boys and girls with the onset of puberty and understand that these take place at different rates for everyone.  Understand the reproductive system of both male and female adults.  Become aware of some communicable diseases and explore how diseases and infections spread.
Strand unit: As I grow I change:
 Explore patterns of development and growth, comparing present development with that of earlier stages: physical, social, emotional, intellectual and spiritual.
Strand unit: Birth and new life:
 Understand sexual intercourse, conception and birth within a context of a committed, loving relationship.
 Discuss and explore the responsibilities involved in being a parent and the emotional and physical maturity required to be a parent.
To be taught by Class Teacher.
Strand unit: Personal Safety – developing safety strategies.
 Identify situations and places that may threaten personal safety, making healthy decisions, identifying and assessing risks.
Myself: Accepting Myself: Self esteem, developing and expressing self confidence.
Strand unit: Feelings and Emotions:  To provide children with opportunities to increase awareness of how feelings and emotions are expressed.  To enable children to express and manage feelings in an appropriate manner.
Strand unit: Personal Hygiene:  Develop awareness of good hygiene practices, diseases and infections and how they are spread, how to protect the body from disease and infection.
Strand unit: Myself and Others – Relating to Others:  Communicating, listening to others with respect, turn taking, tolerating views, how emotion is conveyed.  Use language and gestures to communicate and perform social functions.
Strand Unit: Roles of Males and Females in society.  Examine traditional boy/girl roles, gender and how to counteract stereotyping.  Explore the fact that everyone is equal.  Recognise the adverse effects of sexual stereotyping.
Strand Unit: Friendship  Exploring types and aspects of friendship.
Strand Unit: Portrayal of sexuality and relationships.  Male/female body images in media.  Relationships and how they are portrayed in the media.
Strand Unit: Roles and Responsibilities in Families.  Identify own role within family, responsibilities toward other family members, recognise how a family communicates, how families vary.
Strand Unit: Sharing and Co-operating  Develop co-operative skills, explore sharing, be aware of and discuss factors which promote sharing and co-operation, recognise importance of being honest and responsible with others, develop a sense of accountability.
Strand Unit: Resolving Conflict  How it can arise, responses to conflict situations, how to handle conflict without being aggressive.
Appendix 2
Overview of RSE plans (under SPHE) Relationship and Sexuality Education (RSE)
Class Level Infants 1st & 2nd 3rd & 4th 5th & 6th Content Body parts Birth and new life What babies need to develop Life Cycle: Reproduction, birth, life, growth and death Care of new babies – parents and other Physical changes in body Development of baby from conception to birth Care of baby in womb. Puberty: boys and girls Menstruation Reproductive system Sexual intercourse, Conception and birth. Responsibility of being a parent
Language Womb Penis Vagina
Urethra Breast Umbilical cord
Period, Puberty, Menstruation, Ovum, Ovaries, Fallopian Tube, Wet Dream, Reproductive System, Erection, Fertilised Egg, Semen, Sexual Intercourse, Conception, Sperm.