St Edward’s NS is a Catholic school under the patronage of the Bishop of Elphin, where different races and religions are treated with respect. St Edward’s NS depends on Grants and Teacher Resources provided by the Department of Education and Science, and complies with regulations laid down by the Department. In St Edward’s NS curricular programmes prescribed by the Department of Education and Science are followed, which include Relationships and Sexuality Education (RSE) which is seen as an integral part of Social, Personal and Health Education (SPHE) and which will be taught in this context.
The majority of the children in the school come from Irish Catholic families but in recent years a number of overseas children from other cultures have been enrolled.
The original policy on RSE was developed in 2003 through a process of consultation and collaboration involving parents, teachers, members of the Board of Management. The steps in the process were as follows:
• Questionnaire on RSE drawn up by Home School Community Liaison Coordinator, Principal and parent visitors recruited to distribute and explain it.
• Questionnaires distributed to all parents by parent visitors asking for their views on RSE.
• Returned questionnaires collated and report drawn up by the HSCL Coordinator.
• Four workshop sessions of “Parents and Teachers Working Together” to develop the draft policy using the NCCA policy guidelines and the Report on the Questionnaire. These workshops were facilitated by the HSCL Coordinator.
2. Definition of RSE
Relationships and Sexuality Education aims to help children learn, at home and in school, about their own development and about their friendships and relationships with others. This work will be based on developing a good self-image, promoting respect for themselves and others and providing them with appropriate information.
3. Relationship of RSE to SPHE
Social, Personal and Health Education (SPHE) contributes to developing the work of the school in promoting the health and well-being of children and young people. This happens in the context of their emotional, moral, social and spiritual growth, as well as their intellectual, physical, political, religious and creative development. A supportive school climate, where the needs and well-being of all members of the school community are considered, is essential to the best possible provision for SPHE.
Social, Personal and Health Education looks at issues such as relationships at home and in school, building self-esteem, and learning skills of communication, decision-making and expressing feelings in an appropriate way. It also includes giving clear information on a range of topics, including healthy eating, alcohol, drugs, human growth and development, safety and social responsibility, and environmental issues.
Relationships and Sexuality Education is seen as an integral part of SPHE and will be taught in this context.
4. The current provision of RSE related programmes in the school.
St Edward’s NS already provides a number of programmes, both formal and informal, which deal with the areas included in RSE. These programmes include the following;
• “Walk Tall” – SPHE Programme for the Prevention of Substance Misuse
• “Stay Safe”-Child Abuse Protection Programme
• Friends for Life, Fun Friends and Restorative Practices
• Discipline for Learning Programme
• Code of Behaviour
• “Alive O” /Grow in Love – Religion Programme
• Green Schools – Global Citizenship
• Transfer Programme for Sixth Class children and parents
• Parent/Teacher Meetings
• Home School Community Liaison
• Child Protection Policy
• Anti-Bullying Policy
• Enrolment Policy
• Healthy Eating Policy
• Acceptable Use Policy
5. The Aims of our RSE Programme
• To enhance the personal development, self-esteem and well-being of the child
• To help the child 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
• To develop in the children an awareness of issues relating to their safety and especially the dangers of inappropriate sexual behaviour
• To give the children the skills they need to express their feelings without embarrassment or fear
• Curriculum Content –The curriculum by NCCA will be followed as published, and will be taught from infants to 6th class. All resources used will be in keeping with the ethos of the school, the whole school plan for SPHE and the RSE policy.
• Where an outside speaker is used, the class teacher will remain in the classroom, as per circular 22/2010. The speaker will be made aware of the school’s RSE policy.
• The Stay Safe programme will be implemented throughout the school.
• The class teachers will coordinate the teaching of Stay Safe during the school year.
Topics covered up to 2nd class include:
• Keeping Safe
• Bodily changes during growing and birth (birth to 9)
• Making age appropriate choices
• Appreciating family life
• 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 Sixth include:
• Bodily changes
• Healthy eating, personal hygiene, exercise
• Keeping Safe
• Expressing Feelings
• Family relationships
• Making healthy and responsible decisions
• Forming Friendships
• Discuss the stages and sequence of development of the human baby in the womb( Fourth class)
• Changes that occur in boys and girls with the onset of puberty (Fifth and Sixth Class)
• Reproductive system of male/female adults (Fifth and Sixth Class)
• Understanding sexual intercourse, conception and birth within the context of a committed loving relationship. (Fifth and Sixth Class)
6. Guidelines for the Management and Organisation of RSE in St Edward’s NS
The following guidelines will underpin the management and organisation of RSE Programmes in our school;
• The Stay Safe programme and the sensitive elements of the RSE programme will be taught every second year in term 2. The sensitive elements of the RSE programme will be taught in Junior Infants, 1st, 3rd , 4th (menstruation), 5th and 6th class.
• The Stay Safe programme will be taught in Senior Infants, 2nd, 4th and 6th class.
• Letter to be sent home in advance of lessons on the sensitive issues in RSE in J.I., 1st, 3rd, 4th, 5th and 6th.
• It is the responsibility of parents to inform the school in writing should they not wish their child to participate in the lessons.
• This programme may be taught by external facilitators.
• If children raise questions about controversial topics, the teachers will give simple factual answers within the policy and the ethos of the school. They will not elaborate nor will they give a personal opinion but they will recommend that the child discusses their questions with their parents.
• Parents will be encouraged to discuss topics relating to RSE with their children, as they deem appropriate. They will also be asked to explain to their children the need to respect other families’ views on issues relating to sexuality and sexual education.
• In the class situation children will be encouraged to recognise that certain information is for them only and it would be inappropriate to discuss this with younger siblings/children for example.
• With regard to matters of a confidential nature, the school cannot take any responsibility for what is discussed in the yard or classroom.
• 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.
• Parents are welcome to view the curriculum and resources if they wish.
• Contact will be made with parents prior to the teaching of lessons involving the ‘sensitive elements’ of the RSE programme, in the form of the RSE manual home/school links pages and contact by letter. See appendix 2
• Parents will be informed in advance when formal lessons on the sensitive areas of the programme and will be asked to discuss these issues with their child prior to the lessons in school.
• The school acknowledges that parents have the primary responsibility for educating their children in sexual matters. The school RSE programme acts as a support to parents, and parents retain the right to withdraw their children from classes.
• Relationships and Sexuality Education Manuals (DES). Each class teacher has a copy of the appropriate manual.
• Stay Safe programme
• Walk Tall Programme.
• Busy Bodies DVD and booklet. This DVD and booklet were developed to support the teaching of the 5th and 6th class component of RSE within the context of SPHE.
Provision of Ongoing Support
• Opportunities provided by our Education Centre will be brought to the attention of staff members. Teachers will be encouraged to attend CPD in RSE.
• Application for in-school support from PDST sought when necessary.
• Staff meetings utilised as a platform for discussion and development of RSE materials.
Sample letter to Parents
Relationships and Sexuality education is an integral part of the S.P.H.E programme. The sensitive elements of the Relationships and Sexuality education programme are covered under the Strand Units, ‘Growing and Changing’ and ‘Taking Care of my Body’. We will be completing these Strand Units with all class levels in the forthcoming weeks.
Please find attached the home/school links pages of the Relationships and Sexuality manual which outline the material that will be covered in class and encourage further discussion on the topics at home.
If you have any concerns please make an appointment to see the class teacher.