Relationships and Sexuality Policy
The Education Act (1998) states that one of the functions of the school is to:
“promote the moral,spiritual,social and personal development of students and provide health education for them, in consultation with their parents, having regard to the characteristic spirit of the school” (Section 9)
SPHE (Social, Personal and Health Education) includes a module on Relationships and Sexuality Education for all mainstream classes in primary school which must be delivered on an annual basis. Our school aims to develop a policy on RSE which reflects our ethos and vision. It is informed by the Irish Catholic Bishop’s Conference “Guidelines on RSE” (2014) and the Department of Education and Skills circular 22/2010. The materials used are in accordance with the principles enunciated by the NCCA which stress the importance of a schools ethos and collaboration between parents, teachers, the Principal and the Board of Management. The importance of the material being age and stage appropriate is also emphasised.
An RSE policy review committee comprising parents, teachers and Board of Management representatives was established in November 2015 to draft the RSE policy statement. This policy was presented to Parents Association in November 2015, to staff at the November staff meeting and subsequently to the Board of Management of St. Finbarr’s BNS, who ratified this plan on the 2nd December 2015. The plan is available to view at the school by the parents and will be available to view on the school website
Committee members involved in drawing up policy:
· SPHE coordinator Nicola Threadgold (HSCL)
· ISM team- Aoife Whelan, Sarah Farrell, Nicola Threadgold
· School Principal Maeve Daly
· Teachers representative to BoM Aoife Whelan
· Parents Representative to BoM Emma Ryan
· Board of Management Chairperson Anne Garvey
School Ethos, Mission Statement and Vision
St. Finbarr’s is a Catholic Primary School under the Patronage of the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Dublin. We aim to foster the values of respect, honesty, courtesy, responsibility, tolerance, and consideration for others. We cherish each child as an individual and we strive to develop his spiritual, intellectual, artistic, physical, emotional and social potential. We hope each pupil can live life as a child and we aim to equip him to live a responsible life as an adult. We have a committed staff that endeavours to create an atmosphere where cultural and religious diversity is respected. We recognise parents as the first and most important educators of their own child. We encourage communication and parental involvement, based on mutual trust and understanding. We cherish and foster our Irish culture. We aim to enable children to work together in a supportive, respectful partnership within an inclusive school environment, to respect himself and others, to relate to himself and others and to become an active citizen in society.
Definition of RSE
Relationships and Sexuality Education (RSE) is a lifelong process of acquiring knowledge and understanding, and of developing attitudes, beliefs and values about sexual identity, relationships and intimacy. This education is delivered consciously and unconsciously by parents, teachers, peers, adults and the media. In school, RSE will provide structured opportunities for pupils to acquire a knowledge and understanding of human relationships and sexuality through processes which will enable them to form values and establish behaviours within a moral, spiritual and social framework. This approach gives opportunities to children and young people to learn about relationships and sexuality in ways that help them think and act in a moral, caring and responsible manner. In St. Finbarr’s, through RSE, we aim to help children learn, at home and in school, about their friendships and relationships with others. This work will be based on developing a good self-image, promoting respect for themselves and for others, and providing them with appropriate information.
Relationship of RSE to SPHE
RSE is an integral part of Social, Personal and Health Education and must be taught in this context. SPHE and RSE will be taught throughout the school from infants to sixth class in a spiral curriculum, and will be formally timetabled.
RSE is also offered informally to pupils through a caring and supportive school atmosphere. It is fostered in positive relationships between home, school and community.
The aims of our RSE Programme
1. To assist parents in their role as primary educators so that they may guide their child’s development physically, socially and emotionally.
2. To enhance the personal development, self-esteem and well- being of the child.
3. To help the child to develop healthy friendships and relationships.
4. To foster an understanding of, and a healthy attitude to, relationships and sexuality in a moral, spiritual and social framework.
5. To develop an appreciation of the dignity, uniqueness and well- being of others.
6. To acquire and develop knowledge and understanding of oneself.
7. To understand the nature, growth and development of relationships within families, in friendships and in wider contexts.
8. To acquire and improve skills of communication and social interaction.
9. To develop and promote in the child a sense of understanding of and respect for the process of birth and new life.
10. To develop coping strategies to protect oneself and others from various forms of abuse.
Curriculum Content for RSE :
The curriculum content used in this school is based on Department of Education “Resource Materials for Relationships and Sexuality.
The content objectives, according to class level, which are from the SPHE Curriculum, can be found in Appendix 1. Each objective will be presented and taught using an age-appropriate and sensitive approach.
Relevant resources and appropriate language to be used in lessons are also included in Appendix 1.
Guidelines for the Management and Organisation of RSE in our School
The RSE programme will be delivered as follows:
General Management and Organisation
• Parents are the primary educators of their child. The school has a role to play in supporting and complementing parents in this work, helping to communicate the Christian visions of human life and relationships through the RSE programme. It is the policy of our school to nurture Catholic values in relation to love, marriage, parenthood and family life.
• RSE is an integral part of the SPHE programme and will be taught in this context. The curriculum is spiral in nature and all content will be delivered developmentally throughout the child’s time in St. Finbarr’s. For the most part, RSE will be taught in the normal classroom situation by the class teacher. In 6th class, a speaker from Accord may be invited to deliver the contents of the programme to the class. All material taught will be in accordance with prescribed S.P.H.E. programme and will be informed by the content objectives of the SPHE Curriculum.
• Children with special needs/ learning difficulties may benefit from accessing RSE lessons as part of their learning support/ resource programme. The resource/ learning support teacher may consider it appropriate to integrate some of the RSE content into his/her lessons in order to reinforce the learning from the mainstream classroom. This will be decided in liaison with the class teacher.
1. RSE specific education will be covered in the strand Myself under the strand units
• SELF IDENTITY;
• TAKING CARE OF MY BODY;
• GROWING AND CHANGING
• SAFETY AND PROTECTION
and under the strand Myself and Others under the strand units
• MYSELF & MY FAMILY;
• MY FRIENDS & OTHER PEOPLE;
• RELATING TO OTHERS.
• The content of the RSE programme will be covered in eight to ten lessons per year.
• On enrolment in St. Finbarr’s, parents are asked to sign consent for this programme.
• Sensitive issues include lessons on naming the body parts (Senior Infants) and their functions (2nd Class); changes in their bodies as they grow and develop and lessons on conception and birth (4th and 6th Classes)
• In the RSE Booklet for Parents, “Going Forward Together”, the following rationale is given for the use of correct terminology for body parts:
“It is important that children learn the appropriate vocabulary for discussing aspects of life related to sexuality, growing up and their bodies physical changes so that they can communicate confidently about themselves. When children begin school, it is not unusual, indeed it is quite normal, for them to have other names for their genitals. However, the use of proper terms for parts of the body and bodily functions should be encouraged from the earliest age, so that these terms are given a status and an acceptability. As children get older and become comfortable with these words, they can discuss aspects of their growth and development with greater ease. They are also less likely to resort to inappropriate or vulgar language when referring to the body or bodily functions.“ (P. 17-18)
• An outline of the content of lessons specific to each class level will be available, so that they can prepare the child prior to the lesson being taught, if they so wish. (cf DES Resource Materials for Relationships and Sexuality Education JI-6th Class).
• Before starting an RSE programme with a new class it can be helpful to review the class list of agreed rules of behaviour/ contract.
• A parent’s right to exclude their son from the process will be honoured on the understanding that the parent is taking full responsibility for this aspect of education. Arrangements for taking your son out of class during the lessons are the responsibility of the parents.
• It is the responsibility of the parent to inform the school in writing of their decision to take their son out of the class during RSE and their willingness to cover sensitive issues with their child outside of school hours. If a child is removed from the class for the teaching of sensitive issues we cannot guarantee that the other children will not inform him about what has been taught. The teacher may also need to make incidental reference to the issue at another time while that child is present.
• Teachers will teach only the topics laid down for the class and will only answer those questions which are relevant to the programme for that year. Questions arising from curriculum content will be addressed in a sensible, sensitive and age-appropriate manner. Should a pupil require information that is not in line with the curriculum content and not considered to be age-appropriate, the school will not give such information and will refer the question back to the parents. Teachers will not answer personal questions about themselves nor require the child to give information of a personal nature which he does not wish to share.
• Language will, at all times, reflect respect for those involved and for educational content.
In St. Finbarr’s we will give children the correct and appropriate language to communicate confidently about themselves, their sexuality and their relationships, as outlined in Appendix 1
• A trained facilitator from Accord may be invited to the school to cover sensitive issues with 6th Class annually. A teacher will remain in the classroom during this visit.
• The school holds no responsibility for any information which the pupil may receive outside the direct teaching of the RSE lessons.
Provision for ongoing support and development
Teachers will be made aware of development training opportunities available in the Education centres where necessary to help them implement the RSE programme. Information regarding courses or training for parents may be organised by the Parents’ Association/BOM/school. Relevant RSE school resources will be sourced, stored and updated by the school SPHE co-ordinator Nicola Threadgold. DES Resource Materials for each class grouping are the primary resource for RSE lessons.
This policy was drafted in November 2015 and will be due for further review in November 2018. Members of the committee will be consulted as part of the review process. RSE resources will also be reviewed to ensure they are kept up to date.
Success Criteria On completion of the lessons the programme will be deemed a success if the children have been enabled to achieve the aims as outlined to the best of their ability.
Communication and Ratification
The drafted 2015 policy was presented to the teaching staff of St. Finbarrs as part of the consultation process. Following feedback and amendment where necessary, it was presented to the BOM in November 2015 and subsequently to the Parents’ Association. The reviewed policy will be available to view on the school website. A hard copy will also be available to view on request.
Anne Garvey Chairperson BoM