RSE Policy

Relationships & Sexuality Education Policy

1. Introductory Statement

2. Definition of RSE

3. Relationship of RSE to SPHE

4. Current Provision

5. Aims of RSE Programme

6. Guidelines for the Management and Organisation of RSE in our School

  •     Content
  •     Confidentiality/Child Protection
  •     Support for Parents
  •     Teachers’ Options/Provisions for Ongoing Support/Development
  •      Guest Speakers/Visitors
  •      Community Links

7. Roles and Responsibilities

8. Ratification and Communication

9. Appendix – Sensitive Issues

Introductory Statement

Scoil Naomh Fiachra is a developing mixed primary school situated in Illistrin, which is situated on the outskirts of  the growing town of Letterkenny. There are currently 448 pupils enrolled and teaching staff consist of 16Mainstream teachers, a SEN Team of 5 and 2 EAL Teachers.

The school is managed by a Board of Management and the ethos is Catholic.

Our school embraces a wide variety of cultures and places priortorial emphasis on the fostering of feelings of self-esteem in our pupils while providing them with positive learning experiences necessary to support their readiness for life experiences. This policy is based on a consultative and collaborative process involving Teachers, Management and Parents. It aims to provide teachers with a consistent framework to ensure that all aspects of this spiral curriculum are taught throughout our Primary School.

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 relationships, sexual identity and intimacy. In our school we will provide structured opportunities for this learning through processes which will enable our pupils to form values and establish behaviours within a moral, spiritual and social framework. Our approach will help our children learn about relationships and sexuality in ways that help them think and act in a moral, caring and responsible manner.

Relationships of RSE to SPHE

SPHE is a social and personal health education programme of which RSE is an Integral part. As educators we have a duty to provide the best quality and most appropriate social, personal and health education to our pupils. The Individual Theme of RSE will not be taught in isolation but rather in the context of our overall SPHE Curriculum. This will provide our children with a moral, social and spiritual framework within which to apply their knowledge and make informed choices.

Current Provision

All teaching staff have been trained in the delivery of the RSE Programme. This programme has been phased in from Infants upwards and Parents are asked to sign  a consent form on enrolment permitting the teaching of RSE to their child.  Parents are asked to state in writing if they decide to withdraw their child from the teaching of “sensitive areas”of the programme and the onus is on Parents to inform each subsequent class teacher for their child of this decision. In such circumstances the school will remind Parents that the responsibility for teaching these lessons  now rests with Parents and we will provide them with any support if sought. It has been agreed by all teachers to teach 4/9 lessons before Easter and the remaining 5 lessons in the third term.

Specific Programmes:

  •                     Relationship and Sexuality Education(Dept of Education-Resource Materials)
  •                    Stay Safe Programme
  •                    Walk Tall Programme
  •                    Substance Abuse Prevention Programmes


Existing School subjects:

  •    Elements of RSE are approached during such subjects as Physical Education,
  •    Religious Education, Social and Environmental Studies.


Special Initiatives:

  • Healthy Eating Policy
  • Anti-Bullying Policy
  • Participation in Sports- Gaelic, Soccer, Hurling, Basketall, Athletics, Swimming
  • Inter-school Credit Union Quiz nights
  • Irish Dancing Lessons
  • Music Lessons
  • Competitions
  • Involvement of various Community members, invited speakers, storytellers, artists, musicians, writers, garda, fire brigade and priests. 
  • Opportunities to attend theatrical productions in/out of school.


Extra Resources

  • “Busy Bodies” DVD for use in 4th class to support the teaching of Menstruation, and in 5th and 6th classes to support  the teaching of Physical Development,Sexual Intercourse,Conception and Birth.
  • “Empower Og” DVD  to support the teaching in 6th class of Drug Awareness.
  • NCCA “Guidelines for teachers of students with General Learning Disabilities”
  • Anatomically correct Dolls for use in Infants/1st and 2nd to support the teaching of correct terminology for body parts.
  • Diagrams depicting male/female physical changes during puberty for use in class only.
  • * These diagrams may be viewed by Parents in our school office but will not be sent home with your child. Parents may also visit our school and arrange to view DVD material.


Aims of RSE Programme

1.  To recognise and assist parents in their role as primary educators of their children.

2.  To nurture Catholic values in relation to love, marriage, parenthood and family life.

3.  To enhance the personal development, self-esteem and well-being of the child.

4.  To help the child to develop healthy friendships and relationships.

5.  To foster an understanding of and a healthy attitude to human sexuality and relationships in a moral,spiritual and social framework.

6.  To provide our pupils with appropriate terminology for labelling/discussing body parts/functions.

7.   To develop and promote in the child a sense of wonder and awe at the process of birth and new life.

8.   To enable the child to be comfortable with oneself and others while growing and developing.

9.   To give clear and accurate information that we hope will protect the child against possible abuse or exploitation.

10.  To assist our pupils in developing the skills necessary to cope with sexual stimuli which confront them from an early age in advertisements, music and in the media in general.


Guidelines for the Management & Organisation of RSE 

Teachers are encouraged to spend a period of time prior to the teaching of RSE agreeing conditions of confidentiality, mutual respect and acceptance necessary for an environment conducive to learning. Our teaching methods will always be child-centred and age/stage appropriate. We favour the frequent use of Circle Time as an excellent medium encouraging the active participation of pupils. The Programme will be delivered by the class teacher, a colleague or by visiting speakers where appropriate. Most lessons will be taught to the class as a whole, excepting certain sensitive lessons in the Senior classes (for e.g. Menstruation, wet dreams) which will be taught separately to boys and girls.


The content of each lesson will be in accordance with the Departmental Guidelines, the ethos of our school and this policy. The eight Primary school years are divided into four stages- Junior/Senior Infants, 1st/2nd classes,3rd/4th classes and 5th/6th classes. As this is a spiral curriculum the content objectives taught in the first year of each stage will be revised and extended in the second year. The content of more sensitive lessons will be posted to Parents  prior to the teaching of this material. This will provide Parents with the opportunity to discuss this information with their child.

The sensitive issue/terminology contained in certain lessons for each Year group is included in the appendix of this policy.


Confidentiality/Child Protection

As referred to earlier teachers will negotiate a contract with their class establishing ground rules to limit discussion if necessary, detailing the expected level of respect to be shown to teacher and children and the concept of confidentiality. This school follows the DES Child Protection Guidelines and Procedures, which are based on Children First, National Guidelines for the Protection and Welfare of Children. If a matter is divulged to a teacher of a serious nature this disclosure must be brought to the attention of the Principal/DLP and/or his Assistant. They will refer the matter to the appropriate Authority. In such a case a teacher can never agree to keep a secret for a child.

Support for Parents

In support of the role of Parents as primary educators, we propose organising an information meeting for our parents by an RSE expert. It is hoped that this meeting will familiarise Parents with the materials to be covered enabling them to discuss these areas with their child from our office/our school website. The booklets- “Forward Together” and “Busy Bodies” are also available to Parents.

Teachers Options

  • All teachers are encouraged to participate in teaching the programme.
  • However a teacher may decide to opt out of the teaching of the sensitive lessons. In this case the SPHE Co-ordinator or another colleague will teach these lessons.
  • When possible continued professional development will be provided to teachers.
  • It will be at the discretion of each teacher how to deal with awkward questions but in keeping with our policy it is recommended to stay within the agreed limits. Questions from the Senior classes will be written down and handed up by the pupils to facilitate a screening process and also to reduce embarrassment in the case of genuine questions.
  • Our Special Educational Needs Teachers will be available to class teachers to  support our children with special educational needs with this programme.


Guest Speakers/Visitors

Visiting Speakers/Guests may be invited occasionally to address any aspect of the curriculum. Permission will be sought from the Principal and the Class Teacher will remain with the class at all times. The Guest will be made aware of our policy, ethos and lesson objectives.

Community Links

Our school will liaise with the Health Promotion Unit of our local HSE and other agencies to assist as appropriate in the school’s Programme.

Roles and Responsibilities

Class teachers are responsible for the implementation of the RSE Programme in their own class. The SPHE Co-ordinator supports this Implementation ,will update the policy in collaboration with all parties and will monitor and distribute resources.


This Policy was ratified by the Board of Management on _______________. The Policy is available for Parents in our office or on our School website. The entire Programme will be evaluated periodically and any amendments deemed necessary will be made. It is our policy to welcome comments/feedback from all involved.


Please find enclosed the Sensitive Issue/Terminology which are contained in certain lessons. As stated in the RSE Booklet for Parents, it is important that children learn the appropriate vocabulary for discussing aspects of life related to sexuality, growing up and physical changes so that they can communicate confidently about themselves.

They are also less likely to resort to inappropriate or vulgar language when referring to the body or bodily functions.


The wonder of New Life:

Become aware of new life in the world-new growth  in Springtime-animals being born and fed:

  • Babies growing in the womb (described as a special place near mum’s tummy)
  • Care of babies- reference made to baby being fed
  • Special formula milk or breast milk (term nipple introduced)

My Body

  • Identify external parts of the male and female body-
  • Chest/breast,nipples,navel/belly button,buttocks,vulva,urethra,
  • Penis ( term “anus” may be given if questioned by child with
  • simple explanation of its biological function)


First/Second Class

My Body

Revise names of body parts and discuss their associated functions

                  –  Penis- passing urine

                  – Breasts-feeding a baby

                  – Navel- where a baby was joined to its mother before being born

                  – Vagina- opening where a baby leaves a mother’s womb


New Life:

·        Appreciate and celebrate the wonder of New Life

·        Understand that all living things reproduce

·      Appreciate what is necessary in order to provide and care for newborn babies in both animal and human world- love,regular feeding,nappy changing,careful bathing,medical check ups

Third/Fourth Class

Physical Development

·  Understanding the physical changes taking place in both male and

Female during growth to adulthood

– Growing height/weight

-Increasing strength

-Growing from boy to man

-Growing from girl to woman(onset of Menstruation-4th class  girls only)

Birth and New Life:

·  Sequence and discuss stages of development of the human baby from conception to birth- reference to umbilical cord as food/waste line.

·  Identify the care that needs to be taken during pregnancy-

Diet,rest,love,support of other family members,medical interventions.

·        Recognise the changes in the foetus as it develops in the womb

·        Develop an appreciation of the wonder of the birth of a baby

·        Compare and contrast gestation period in animals and humans.

Portrayal of sexuality and relationships:

Discuss the portrayal of male/female body images in the media

Explore the roles assigned to males/females within the media and the influence media images may have on the understanding of male/female roles

Examine and discuss the portrayal of relationships in the media.

Fifth/Sixth Class

Physical Development:

Identify and explore the physical changes that occur in males/females with the onset of puberty: 

Female –  Hormonal changes:

                  Changing Body Shape

                  Development of Breasts


                 Beginning of Ovulation

Male –    Hormonal changes

                Physical Growth

                Growth of Testicles and Penis

                Breaking of voice

                Beginning of sperm production

               Onset of nocturnal emissions(wet dreams),semen, ejaculation

Become familiar with the reproductive systems of male and female

Understand how sexual intercourse,conception and birth take place within the context of a committed loving relationship.

(6th class only)

          Becoming an adult:

  •   Accept that pubertal changes occur at different times for different people and that this is natural.
  •   Understand that mood and emotions are often affected by physical and hormonal changes.
  •   Recognise and begin to understand strong emotions and desires
  •   Identify and discuss the changes that are experienced in growing from child to adult:

– Changes in interests and leisure activities

– Development of a wider social network

– Increase in Personal and Community responsibility

-Coping with transition from Primary to Secondary school


Discuss and understand the responsibilities  involved in becoming a parent:

  •            Taking care of offspring from birth onwards
  •            Emotional,psychological and practical provision

Explore and discuss fostering and adoption

Personal Hygiene:

Recognise the importance of good personal hygiene practices during puberty and in promoting positive social interaction.

Becoming aware of some communicable diseases and infections and their long term consequences:

Chickenpox: shingles in adulthood

-Rubella: danger to babies

-Mumps:may cause sterility

-Infection by HIV: may lead to AIDS (6th class only)

Changing relationships in Family and Friendships

Explore the differences between boy/girl friendships and same sex friendships-talking about different things, liking to impress opposite sex.

Portrayal of sexuality and friendships:

  •   Explore how sexuality is defined and portrayed in the media, soaps, films, magazines.
  •   Analyse the sexual images portrayed in advertising-Alcoholic drinks, perfume, after-shave.

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