Relationships and Sexuality Education (R.S.E.)
School Name: St. Laurence’s N.S.
Address: Crookstown, Ballitore, Athy, Co. Kildare
Category: Mixed Boys and Girls
Junior Infants – 6th Class
Roll No: 09414C
St. Laurence’s N.S. has a responsibility to put in place an R.S.E. policy, as part of the
wider Social, Personal and Health Education (S.P.H.E.) strand of the Curriculum. The
process was initiated in 2007 when the policy committee (B.O.M., Staff and Parents) was
charged with setting parameters for the organization and management of the R.S.E. in the
The need for this policy arises from our school’s obligation to provide for all the needs of
the student body and respond appropriately to sensitive and emotive issues relating to
relationships and emerging sexuality.
Schools Educational Philosophy and Ethos
The years your child spends in Primary School are the most important years of his/her
school going life. The discipline, attitudes and learning skills acquired there will be those
the child will use for the rest of his/her academic career and life. If these habits are good
and solid then he/she will be a happy, mature and contented student. We, as parents and
teachers must do everything in our power to nurture and care for the child’s developing
mind, body and spirit.
St. Laurence’s National school is committed to providing Primary School education
where each individual is enabled to grow physically, morally, emotionally, socially,
intellectually and spiritually. We recognise that the children will flourish in a friendly and
open environment and we strive in each class and throughout the school, to create a
strong sense of community. We try to raise the children’s awareness of ecological
matters, and we have introduced a policy of recycling through the school.
We share in the responsibility of transmitting knowledge and attitudes which will enable
the children to grow in their religious faith. We are a Catholic school but pupils of
different persuasions attend our school and their religious outlook is respected. All
children are equally welcome.
We believe that a strong spirit of co-operation exists in our school, between the teaching
staff, the ancillary staff, parents and pupils. The parents are after all, the primary
educators of their children and the school is where the professional educators
complement the work of the home.
It is the earnest wish of the staff, parents and management of the school that each pupil
should leave St. Laurence’s N.S. with a good self image and with the knowledge, skills
and attitudes to ensure that whatever walk of life is chosen later on, he/she can look
forward to further growth and fulfilment in the future.
Definition Relationships and Sexuality Education (R.S.E.)
Relationships and Sexuality Education (R.S.E.) is now an integral part of the Social,
Personal and Health Education (S.P.H.E.) Curriculum.
R.S.E. is a programme which aims to provide opportunities for our pupils to develop the
skills and competence to learn about themselves and their development, their relationship
with others and their sexuality. This is achieved in ways that help them to think and act in
a moral, caring and responsible manner.
Respecting the ethos of the school and sensitive to the needs and wishes of
parents and pupils, the school management will provide an R.S.E. Programme as part of
the Social Personal and Health Education Programme (S.P.H.E.) already being taught in
our school for some years; thus providing children with structured opportunities to
develop the knowledge, attitudes, values, beliefs and practical skills necessary to
establish and sustain healthy personal relationships as children and later as adults.
Relationship of R.S.E. to S.P.H.E.
In St. Laurence’s N.S. R.S.E. will be promoted and developed as an integral part of the S.P.H.E. Programme which aims to
- Promote the health and well being of our pupils in the context of their emotional, moral social and spiritual growth as well as their intellectual, physical, political religious and creative development.
- S.P.H.E. in St. Laurence’s also aims at building self-esteem and learning skills of communication, decision making and expressing feelings in an appropriate way.
- Is a lifelong process and consequently RSE is a continual process throughout primary school and is not confined to once off inputs or lessons.
- Is a shared responsibility between family, school, health professionals and the community. RSE education should include an input from all, and collaboration
can be fostered through the teaching and delivery of materials.
- Is a generic approach. It is not about the specific content of RSE but rather the relationship with a child’s skills, attitudes, values and understanding relevant to a range of social, personal and health issues.
- Is based on the needs of the child, therefore RSE education should prioritise the needs of the child and his/her environment, with appropriate adaptations made within the curriculum to suit individual requirements and individual school situations.
- Is spiral in nature. RSE is revisited at different stages throughout the child’s time in school, this will provide opportunities to consolidate and build on previous learning. This allows for issues and topics to be explored and treated in a manner appropriate to the children’s needs, abilities and levels of maturity.
- Engages children to be involved in activity based learning. RSE should provide a range of learning opportunities that include working together, learning about one’s own feelings and those of others, developing a sense of empathy and experiencing and supporting healthy relationships.
Through SPHE and RSE, members of the school community should be enabled to enhance their self-esteem and wellbeing though:
- A sense of identity
- A sense of purpose
- A sense of belonging
- A sense of security
- A sense of competence.
In an ever changing world, RSE encourages children through consistent messages that are
taught in line with SPHE. The school has a responsibility to ensure that its curriculum is
free of bias and that issues of inequality in any form are addressed and dealt with (SPHE
Teacher Guidelines, p25). In learning about cultures and traditions of others, children
can develop a sense of respect for difference and appreciate the contribution that such has
to offer. It will encourage children to be inclusive with each other, challenge prejudice
and learn how to live in an intercultural society.
What St. Laurence’s currently provides:
- Stay Safe Programme – All classes Junior Infants to 6th Class.
- Alive O Programme/ Grow in Love (Religious Education)
- Walk Tall Programme
- Webwise resources
- All Together Now – Homophobic and Transphobic bullying lessons
- RESPECT Guidelines (suggested approaches to teaching about different families)
- Adapted resources for SEN from pdst.ie
- The Environmental Studies and Health Education Programme
- Code of Behaviour.
- Circle Time
- Life Skills Programme arranged for 5th and 6th classes, which involves visiting
teaching Counsellors from the Accord Programme, who will meet with parents and
discuss the programme content.
The areas covered by the facilitators include:
(a) Personal and relational growth
(b) Sexual and emotional development as appropriate to this age group
The 3 modules include:
- Being a responsible person – what it means
- Adolescent Changes
- Questions around the programme
The Aims of our R.S.E. Programme
- 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.
When due account is taken of abilities and varying circumstances, the RSE education
curriculum should enable the child to (in conjunction with the SPHE curriculum)
. Acquire and develop knowledge and understanding of self
. Develop an appreciation of the dignity, uniqueness and wellbeing of others
. Develop a positive sense of self-awareness, self-esteem and self-worth
. Understand the nature, growth and development of relationships within families, in friendships and wider contexts
. Develop an awareness of differing family patterns
. Come to value family life and appreciate the responsibilities of parenthood
. Develop strategies to make decisions, solve problems and implement actions in various personal, social and health contexts
. Become aware of the variety of ways in which individuals grow and change and
understand that their developing sexuality is an important aspect of self-identity
. Develop personal skills which help to establish and sustain healthy personal relationships
. Develop coping strategies to protect self and others from various forms of abuse
. Acquire and improve skills of communication and social interaction
. Acquire the use of appropriate vocabulary to discuss feelings, sexuality, growth and development
. Develop a critical understanding of external influences on lifestyles and decision making.
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 recognize 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
. Substance Use Policy
. Code of Behaviour
. Anti-Bullying Policy
. Enrolment Policy
. Acceptable Use Policy
. Healthy Eating Policy
Guidelines for the Management and Organisation of R.S.E. in Our School.
- The Board of Management / The Principal is responsible for arrangements with
regards to the teaching of the programme and the development of the staff.
- The Catholic ethos of the school will be taken into account at all times. Every effort
will be made to deal with sensitive issues in a manner which will take into account
the different life experiences of the individuals involved
- The R.S.E. lessons will be carefully matched to the developmental stages of the
- The strands Growing and Changing and Taking Care of my Body are covered in Year
2 of our 2 year SPHE Plan
- The sensitive lessons are covered as part of these broad topics.
- Special arrangements exist for the delivery of the sensitive elements from 4th Class up
- 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
- An atmosphere that respects the privacy of the individual will be created in the
- Parents have the primary responsibility for educating their children in sexual matters.
The schools R.S.E. programme acts as a support to parents
- The programme is taught with the ethos of the school and contempory issues / topics
are dealt with by the teacher, at a level appropriate to the age and stage of
development of pupils within a moral and spiritual framework and in line with the
- Teachers are present at all times when guest speakers are visiting a class in
accordance with Circular 0022/2010.
. R.S.E. is an integral part of the S.P.H.E. Curriculum and schools are not required
to ask parents to sign a permission slip to allow their child to attend lessons on the
sensitive issues in R.S.E. / Stay Safe.
. Parents will be informed that the school fully implements the RSE strands of the
SPHE programme including sensitive aspects of the programme at enrolment
. Parents will be informed in advance of lessons on the sensitive areas of the RSE programme, with a letter relevant to what will be taught at their child’s class level
. The letter will be issued in advance, giving parents an opportunity to meet with relevant class teachers if they so wish, to discuss or clarify 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. The school acknowledges that parents have the primary responsibility for educating their children about growing and changing
. Parents have a right to choose whether or not their children receive instruction on
the areas covered by the R.S.E. / Stay Safe objectives. Parents may choose to
withdraw their children from some or all of these objectives.
. Where parents wish to take their child out of the lessons on the sensitive issues,
they must put this in writing and this will be centrally filed. They will meet with
the Principal to discuss arrangements re how this information will be given to
their child and how best to manage the opting out process, in the best interest of
the child. Every effort will be made to minimise attention being brought to these children.
. While these children are not present for formal lessons on the sensitive areas,
teachers cannot be held responsible for language used necessarily in school life or
. All parents will be made aware of the R.S.E. and Stay Safe topics that will be
covered each school year in Term 3, and the ethos within which they will be
delivered. All parents should discuss these topics with their child, prior to class
discussions. Any parent who has concerns, should discuss them with the Class
Teacher / Principal.
. Each family will be given a copy of the parent information booklet `R.S.E .Going
Forward Together` in Term 3 with a covering letter.
. New parents will be made aware of the R.S.E. / Stay Safe Policy.
. Parents of new junior infants will be informed in June and will receive the
information booklet in their introductory pack.
. Home / School links pages.
S.P.H.E. is a shared responsibility between family and school.
. Copies of the school plan for S.P.H.E. are available from the Principal’s office.
. Stay Safe Information Booklet will be given to Parents each year.
. Parents will be made aware of content objectives that deal with ‘sensitive’ issues
and will be asked to discuss these issues with their child prior to the lessons in
. When aspects of the S.P.H.E. plan (Substance Use, Child Protection,
Relationships and Sexuality Education (R.S.E.), Nutrition) are reviewed parent
representatives from the Parents’ Association will form part of the review group.
Organisation and Curriculum Planning
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.
Strand Unit: Growing and Changing and Taking Care of my Body
The RSE programme is divided into two main parts:
- The general programme which contains content covered through SPHE strands
and stand units and compliment the aims and objectives of RSE
. Growing up
The Second section will deal with any sensitive/specific content covered through RSE
strands and strand units. The sensitive aspects are in bold.
|Topics covered up to 2nd Class
. Keeping Safe
. Bodily Changes from birth (-9)
. Making age appropriate choices
. Appreciating the variety of family
types and the variety of family life
that exists in our school and
. Recognising and expressing
. Self-care, hygiene, diet, exercise
. Expressing opinions and listening
. Naming parts of the male/female
body using appropriate
anatomical terms (Junior/Senior
. Naming 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 and
. Keeping safe
. Expressing feelings
. Appreciating the variety of family
types within our school and community
and how these family relationships
. Making healthy and responsible
. Forming friendships
. Discuss the stages and sequence of
development of the human baby in
the womb(3rd, 4th class)
. Introduction to puberty and changes
(3rd, 4th, 5th and 6th class)
. Changes that occur in boys and girls
with the onset of puberty ( 5th and 6th
. Reproductive system of male/female
adults (5th and 6th class)
. Understanding sexual intercourse,
conception and birth within the
context of a committed loving
relationship (5th, 6th class).
Sensitive Content 3rd – 6th
|Strand||Strand Units (Year 1)||Strand Units (Year 2)|
|Self-identity (Sept.–Oct.)||Taking care of my body (Jan-Feb)|
|Making decisions (Jan-Feb, 3rd – 6th Class only)||Growing and Changing (March-April)
|Safety and Protection (Mar-April)|
|Myself and others||Relating to others
|Myself and My Family (Sept -Oct)|
|My friends and other people (Nov-Dec)|
|Myself and the wider world||Developing Citizenship (May-June)||Media Education (May-June)|
Sometimes teaching the sensitive lessons to 3rd, 4th, 5th and 6th class will differ from the following 2 year SPHE plan for a variety of reasons, such as:
- Multi grade settings of 2,3 or 4 classes
- Single stream settings
- Maturity level of children
- School Context
The RSE lessons are taught incrementally to support the development of the children.
In a Single stream setting and in a Multi-grade setting, the teaching of RSE is staged.
Sensitive content is taught as per 2 year SPHE Plan
Approaches and Methodologies
When implementing the programme, staff at St Laurence’s NS will endeavour to display
respect for and sensitivity towards the different cultural and 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
. Art activities
. Circle time
It is the responsibility of the Board of Management to ensure that R.S.E. is taught in the
school. The staff will follow the 2 year plan so as to ensure that all strand units are covered over the 2 years. Taking Care of My Body and Growing and Changing is taught in our school from January to April inclusive. Teachers will decide the timetabling of R.S.E. / Stay Safe lessons. The staff decision is that these lessons will be taught to all classes in Term 3. This allows the children the time to absorb the values within which this knowledge is presented.
RSE and Stay Safe Programme
RSE and Stay Safe programme will be taught in the context of S.P.H.E. The content
objectives that will be addressed in discrete time for the sensitive areas of the R.S.E. and
Stay Safe elements of S.P.H.E. are listed and it is agreed that these objectives will be addressed in both classes at a particular level, year two serving to revise the content
objectives covered in year one. Each teacher has a list of the content objectives. All of
these issues will be dealt with in the context of the development of attitudes and values
consistent with the ethos of our school. The following arrangements have been made in
collaboration with parents, Board of Management and teachers:
- Timetable/ 2 Year Plan
- Dealing with Questions
- Communications between school and home / Parents’ choices
- Teachers’ choices
- Guest Speakers
Dealing with Questions:
Teachers establish ground rules limiting the discussion to material covered in present or
previous lessons. For teachers who have opted not to teach the R.S.E. lessons, questions
can be referred to the Principal.
A question box will be used in the senior classes when teaching RSE. The teacher will
explain to the children that he/she will try their best to answer the questions that any child
may have but that they may not be able to answer them all. He/she will explain to the
children the purpose of the question box and that there won’t be any questions asked
from the floor. Any questions that a child may have can be written down and placed into
the question box for the teacher to answer at a later stage, thus allowing time to prepare
suitable answers, consult with colleagues etc.
When deciding to answer any question, the teacher will take into account:
. The age and stage of the children
. The ethos of our school
. The SPHE curriculum
Some sample responses may include:
. I’ll do my best to answer your questions, but I may not be able to answer all of them
. That is something you will learn about as you get older.
. Maybe you could talk to your parents/ guardian about that.
. We agreed in our contract that we wouldn’t ask anyone personal questions
. Somebody asked a question and the language they used was slang language, what they meant to ask was…
Confidentiality: Teachers establish ground rules covering the limits of the discussion,
the level of respect required and the concept of confidentiality. All discussions will
remain within the parameters of planned material. If a matter is divulged to a teacher
where either an accusation or a suggestion of a criminal act is made, the matter should be
brought to the attention of the Principal, (the Designated Liaison Person), who will refer
it to the proper authorities. (See Child Protection Procedures for Primary and Post
Primary Schools 2017,Circular 0081/2017 and our schools Child Safeguarding Statement). In these
matters a teacher should never agree to keep a secret for a child.
Discrete Time: S.P.H.E. may be timetabled for ½ hour per week, one hour per fortnight
or blocks of 1 – 2 hours per month where feasible or appropriate. Children who are
withdrawn for supplementary teaching must be included for as much of the S.P.H.E.
programme as possible. This discrete time is used to develop and practise particular
skills, deal with sensitive issues that are not addressed in other areas of the curriculum. It
has been agreed that content objectives dealing with R.S.E. and child protection are
addressed through discrete time.
Teachers use assessment and professional judgement to differentiate the programme and
content to suit the needs of the class. Some techniques used:
- ensuring that objectives are realistic for the students
- ensuring that the learning task is compatible with prior learning
- providing opportunities for interacting and working with other students in small
groups and spending more time on tasks
- organising the learning task into small stages and ensuring that the language used
is pitched at the student’s level of understanding
- understanding of the activity using task analysis, outlining the steps to be
learned/completed in any given task, posing key questions to guide students
through the different stages/processes, and to assist in self-direction and
- having short and varied tasks creating a learning environment through the use of
concrete, and where possible every day materials, and by displaying word lists
and laminated charts with pictures.
Sometimes the stage of development in a class can vary widely and strategies to
differentiate in class can support gradual and appropriate teaching
- group work and discussion
- higher and lower order questioning in groups
- moderated whole class discussions through use of a Question Box.
Pupils with Special Educational Needs
Adaptations to the way in which the content is delivered will be made for children with
Special Educational Needs. Consultation with parents/ guardians in advance and
anticipation of the children’s needs will be central to ensuring learning is meaningful.
- Children may be pre-taught language or concepts in anticipation of whole class work
- Children may work in smaller groups or 1:1 on adapted and suitable material
- Any different or specific objectives related to the pupils own learning needs should be detailed in their IEP or IPLP in consultation with parents/guardians.
SPHE curriculum provides a context in which children are given opportunities to develop
and enhance their language skills and to increase their vocabulary related to SPHE.
Children should become aware of the power and influence of language. When used
positively, language can build up, affirm and show respect to another human being but if
used in a negative manner can hurt, diminish and demean. Children need to recognise and
become sensitive to the ways in which they themselves use language in their relationship
and their everyday interactions. Language is a powerful tool and should be used with
respect and integrity for the dignity of each person. There are two areas where the use of
language is applied in RSE lessons:
. The formal use and teaching of language generally throughout the school
. The use of language in discussion through your formal RSE lessons
Appropriate vocabulary in formal teaching
. Relating to sexuality, growing up, physical changes, parts of the body and
feelings will be used. The use of slang will be discouraged
. Anatomical terms and language introduced is consistent with RSE Materials
Books (see Appendix 1)
Individual Teachers’ Planning and Reporting
Teachers should base their yearly and short term plans on the approaches set out in this
whole school plan for S.P.H.E. Work covered will be outlined in the Cuntas Miosúil,
which will be submitted to the Principal. Cuntais Miosúil will be used to review the
schools programme for S.P.H.E.
The school will liaise with the Health Promotion Unit of the local Health Board and other
agencies to assist, as appropriate, the schools programme for S.P.H.E.
Teachers have a right to choose whether or not to give instruction in the area covered by
the R.S.E. objectives. Where a teacher decides not to give instruction in these lessons the
following guidelines will apply:
- Another staff member / Principal may deal with this material
- A guest speaker may be invited to deal with this issue but a teacher/principal must be
present in the room at all times in accordance with Circular 0022/2010
- Teachers who choose not to deal with aspects of the S.P.H.E. programme must bring
this to the attention of the Principal at the earliest possible opportunity to enable
alternative arrangements to be put in place.
The principal and the class teacher involved will consult with Accord or other suitable
agencies should guest speakers be required to deal with R.S.E. issues or co-teach these
issues. The following guidelines will then apply:
- The teacher / teachers concerned will make the guest speaker aware of the objectives
to be covered and the policy and ethos within which they will discuss
- The class teacher or another class teacher will remain with the class group while the
guest speaker is present. When using an outside speaker, the classroom teacher will
design the S.P.H.E. Programme in such a way that his / her lessons lead into the
lessons presented by the outside speaker and follow on from them.
This school follows the Department of Education and Skills Child Protection Guidelines
and Procedures 2017,which are based on Children First, National Guidance for the Protection
and Welfare of Children 2017. The Principal is the designated liaison person (DLP). Each
Staff meeting teachers are reminded of the school’s Child Safeguarding Statement and the
procedures to be followed in dealing with incidents related to child protection. Parents are
also informed of these procedures through the school website
(www.stlaurences.scoilnet.ie). Each teacher has a copy of the school’s Child Safeguarding Statement
and a copy is available to parents in the Principal’s office and online, on our school
website. In cases of disclosure, the D.L.P. will follow the procedures ,as set out in the school’s Child Safeguarding Statement.
Ongoing support, development and Review
- The programme will be monitored and assessed on an on-going basis by those
involved. It is envisaged that the teaching staff will review and adjust the programme
as the practicalities of the classroom situation demands.
- The Board of Management will review and update the policy as necessary.
- The Board of Management will be responsible for on-going, in-career development of
- The material being taught will be available for parents at the school and the home /
school link pages for each theme will give the Parents / Guardians an insight into the
work being done in the school.
This policy was drafted as a result of a process of consultation involving staff, parents
and the Board of Management following ongoing Curriculum Development.
Policy ratified by the Board of Management of St. Laurence’s National School
Chairperson: David O`Grady
Review and updated in line with Department of Education and Skills guidelines and P.D.S.T. support
Procedures in November 2017