Social Personal and Health Education Policy

SPHE Policy

  1.  Introductory Statement and Rationale
  2.  Vision and Aims
  3.  Content of the Plan
  4. Strands and Strand Units
  5. Contexts for SPHE
  6. Approaches and Methodologies

·        Assessment

·        Children with different needs

·        Equality of participation and access

·        Policies and programmes that support SPHE

·        Homework

·        Resources

·        Individual teachers’ Planning and Reporting

·        Staff Development

·        Parental Involvement

·        Community Links

7.  Success Criteria

8. Implementation

9. Review

10. Ratification and Communication

11. Appendix

Introductory Statement

Scoil Naomh Fiachra is a mixed primary school situated in Illistrin, Letterkenny. The school is developing rapidly with new staff joining each year. At present there are over 470 pupils and the staff consist of a Principal Teacher, 16 mainstream teachers, a S.E.N team of 7 teachers catering for Resource, Learning Support and EAL needs, 7 SNAs, 2 secretaries, a caretaker and cleaning staff. The school is managed by a Board of Management and the ethos is Catholic.


This policy reflects whole school decisions in relation to SPHE in line with the Primary School curriculum. Its purpose is to guide teachers in adopting a consistent and coherent approach to the teaching and learning of SPHE in our school. It is intended to guide teachers in their planning for SPHE to ensure appropriate coverage of all aspects of the curriculum from Infants to Sixth. This policy is available to all teachers on shared documents and has taken into account feedback received from an Evaluation Report following a whole school inspection of the subject and SPHE Best Practice Guidelines for Primary Schools(Circular 0022/2010).

Vision and Aims

Our school values the uniqueness of all individuals within a caring and supportive school community. We recognise that SPHE is intrinsic to the learning and teaching that occurs both formally and informally in the school and in the classroom. Through our SPHE programme we wish to foster feelings of self-worth and self-confidence while encouraging pupils 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 the wider community. We appreciate the primary role of Parents in the social, personal and health education of their children, hence their involvement will be encouraged as much as possible.

We endorse the aims and objectives of the SPHE curriculum and we add:

  • To enable children to develop an awareness of their responsibilities to others in a caring community
  • To enable the children to take greater control of their own lives
  • To encourage children to be active in determining their own learning

Content of the Plan

Strands and Strand Units

SPHE is planned so that children receive a comprehensive programme over a two-year cycle. Teachers have allocated strand units for each class. This ensures that areas not covered one year are included in the following year’s programme. In some cases some objectives from the previous year will be revised. As this is a spiral curriculum, similar aspects are revisited in different ways depending on the age, stage of development and readiness of each child.

The content objectives for the sensitive areas of the RSE and Stay Safe elements of SPHE will be addressed in discrete time in both classes at a particular level, year two will revise the content of year one.

Materials and resources have been identified to support each strand unit. These are listed in the following table. Each teacher will be given a copy of this at the beginning of each school year. These resources are available from the SPHE Co-ordinator.

Strand Strand Units (Year 1)Strand Units (Year 2)

Myself and others

Myself and the Wider World

 Self-identity  (Sept/Oct)

Taking care of my body (Nov/Dec)

Growing and changing (Mar/Apr)

Safety and protection (Jan/Feb)

Making decisions (3rd-6th) (Nov/Dec)

Myself and my Family (Jan/Feb)My friends and other people


Relating to others


Developing citizenship


Media Education


Strand Strand Units (Year 1)Strand Units (Year 2)

Myself and others

Myself and the Wider World

 Self-identity  (Sept/Oct)

Taking care of my body (Nov/Dec)

Growing and changing (Mar/Apr)

Safety and protection (Jan/Feb)

Making decisions (3rd-6th) (Nov/Dec)

Myself and my Family (Jan/Feb)My friends and other people


Relating to others


Developing citizenship


Media Education


Contexts for SPHE

SPHE will be taught through a variety of contexts:

# Positive school climate and atmosphere

# Discrete time

# Integration with other subject areas


Positive school climate and atmosphere:

At the first staff meeting of the year all members of the school community are reminded  of the importance of promoting a positive school climate. These key messages dealing with school climate and atmosphere are also included in the booklet for new families enrolling their children in the school and are referred to regularly throughout the school year at parents’ meetings, notes and in classes.

  • We aim to actively value diversity and to promote inclusive and respectful language.
  • We work to develop an effective communication system within the school and between the school and the home.
  • We support a health-promoting physical environment.
  • Emphasis on healthy lunches (See Healthy Eating Policy), healthy lifestyle, exercise, sport,Road, Farm and Water Safety and regular Fire Drills are some of the areas promoted.
  • Pride in the school environment is promoted through the Green Schools Policy, litter prevention Programmes, Cycle to School scheme, maintenance of the Outdoor Garden and associated equipment and the monitoring of school hygiene procedures.
  • Children experience the democratic process by being involved in devising class rules, having  shared responsibility, by experiencing a sense of belonging to their own class and the whole school community, by valuing the opinion of others and in developing a sense of commitment to common goals.
Discrete time

SPHE may be timetabled for ½ hour per week, one hour per fortnight or blocks of 1-2 hours per month. Children who are withdrawn for supplementary teaching will be included as much as possible in the programme.


Teachers may seek to integrate SPHE with other curricular areas. Teachers may provide for  this in their short term planning and will be reflected in their Cuntas Miosúil.

Approaches and Methodologies

Keeping the key principle of Active Learning to the fore, the following learning strategies are promoted for SPHE:

  • Circle Time
  • Assemblies/school concerts/International Day
  • Drama Activities
  • Co-operative games
  • Pictures, photographs and visual images
  • Discussion: pairs, small groups or whole class
  • Green School’s Magazine
  • Written activities: surveys, questionnaires, lists, check-lists, projects, worksheets
  • Looking at children’s work: portfolio, projects, posters, copy work, SALF…
  • Media Studies( with use of School Library)
  • Participating in competitions designed to deal with issues such as Bullying
  • Attending talks given by experts/qualified personnel on relevant issues and having the opportunity to question, seek clarity, critically reflect and engage in follow up activities.
  • Information and communication technologies
  • Other strategies devised by teaching staff.

Childrens’ progress is assessed through:

1.  Teacher observation ( This is  an invaluable record for Parent/Teacher meetings or when meeting with other professionals working with a child, e.g Psychologist/Speech or Occupational Therapist)

o   The ability of the child to co-operate and work in groups or independently

o   Informal interaction between child/adult or child/peers

o   Physical and emotional maturity

o   Quality of presentation

o   Participation and interest of children

2.  Teacher-designed tests and Tasks:

SPHE includes areas of knowledge and understanding that will need to be assessed atregular intervals.

Specific tasks can be used to ascertain child’s ability. These tests can be devised cross-curricularly.

3. Checklists as provided by other professionals, e.g Educational Psychologist/

Behavioural Therapist:                          

From time to time, a teacher may be asked to complete a checklist detailing a child’s stage of development educationally or in behaviour terms. These lists provide other professionals with an insight into a child as reported by the trained eye of a teacher who has a good knowledge of the child.

4. Portfolios and projects:

Teachers may decide that children will keep personal folders of their work which could include Questionnaires, surveys etc.

5. Self-assessment by children:

Children will be encouraged to engage in assessing their own progress in SPHE and to reflect on their learning. Recording data can contribute to the overall picture of the child’s development. It will serve as a positive experience for pupils who can celebrate their capabilities and achievements  while accepting their limitations.

6. Peer Feedback:

This provides the opportunity for pupils to examine their peers’ work and provide positive  feedback with constructive advice if necessary. It encourages pupils to value each other’s opinions and successes while providing much scope for mentoring and peer support.

Children with different needs

The SPHE programme aims to meet the needs of all the children in the school. This will be achieved by varying the pace, methodology and content to ensure learning for all pupils. This will be recorded in forward planning. As agreed by all staff, pupils with different needs may be withdrawn individually , in pairs or in a small group and taught specific SPHE lessons by his/her resource/learning support teacher if deemed preferable by the class teacher.  Specific resources are available from the SPHE Co-ordinator to supplement teaching and to ensure this curriculum is accessible for all pupils. Children who experience loss or bereavement, serious illness or major trauma will be supported in an appropriate manner. Resources are available within the school to assist teachers dealing with such issues

Equality of participation and access

We view the SPHE programme as providing an opportunity of equal participation for all children. We provide an equal education experience for boys and girls. Children with special needs will be included in all activities, their learning being catered for in the way deemed most appropriate and effective for their individual needs.

Policies and Programmes which support SPHE

SPHE links with other policies and programmes used in the school-Substance Use, Stay Safe, Child Protection, Enrolment, Code of Behaviour, Anti-Bullying, Health and Safety Statement, Healthy Eating, Care of the Environment. Teachers are expected to be familiar with these policies.

RSE and Stay Safe:

RSE and Stay Safe are addressed in the context of SPHE. The content objectives that will be addressed in discrete time for the sensitive areas of the RSE and Stay Safe elements of SPHE are listed in Appendix 1 and it is agreed that these objectives will be addressed in both classes at a particular level, year 2 serving to revise the content objectives covered in year 1. 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
  • Dealing with questions
  • Confidentiality
  • Communication between school and home/parents’ choices

Teachers will decide the timetabling of RSE/Stay Safe lessons. If there is no request for the withdrawal of a child the lessons may be spread over a school year rather within a concentrated time-frame.

Where a child is being withdrawn, the teacher will need to inform the parents of the dates of lessons and make arrangements for the supervision of the child.( Also c.f RSE Policy)

Dealing with Questions

Teachers will establish ground rules limiting the discussion to material covered in previous or present lessons. Teachers will use discretion to decide whether the question should be discussed in the classroom or referred to parents. It has been agreed to provide a “suggestion box” in the classroom for pupils giving them the opportunity to ask questions/seek clarification/make comments that are relevant to the lesson but they may find difficult to ask aloud in front of their peers.


Teachers establish ground rules covering the limits of the discussion, the level of respect required and the importance of confidentiality. All discussions will remain within the parameters of planned  material. If a matter is divulged to a teacher of a serious nature the matter should be brought to the attention of the Principal  and/or the Designated Liaison Person who will refer the matter to the appropriate authority.In these matters the teacher never agrees to keep a secret for a child.

Communications with parents re. RSE & Stay SafeMatters/Parents’ Choices

Parents have a right to choose whether or not their children receive instruction in the areas covered by the RSE/Stay Safe objectives. Parents may choose to withdraw their children from some or all of these objectives.

All parents will be made aware of the RSE and Stay Safe topics that will be covered each school year and the ethos within which they will be delivered. All parents should discuss these topics with their children prior to class discussion.

  • Any parent who has concerns will discuss these with the class teacher. A parent who asks to have a child  withdrawn from specific objectives should do so before the end of September. Only parents who have done this will be contacted  about the actual date of specific lessons and arrangements made for the supervision of that child.
  • Parents will have to make their wishes known each year to the  new class teacher.
  • Where parents choose to withdraw children from specific objectives they will be withdrawn from
  • formal lessons covering these matters. Teachers will then avoid addressing those issues formally
  • in the context of class discussions. Teachers cannot be held responsible for language used necessarily in school life or by children.
Teachers’ Choices

Teachers have a right to choose whether or not to give instruction in the sensitive areas of the RSE Programme.

When this occurs the following guidelines will apply:

  • Another staff member e.g SPHE Co-ordinator  may deal with this material
  • A guest speaker may be invited to deal with the issue.
Guest Speakers

The Principal and the class teacher involved will consult with suitable agencies should guest speakers be required. The following guidelines will apply:

  • The teacher concerned will make the guest speaker aware of the objectives to be covered the and the policy and ethos within which they will be discussed.
  • The class teacher or another class teacher will remain with the class group while the guest speaker is present.
Child Protection

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 2011. The principal is the designated liaison person(DLP). Each September teachers are reminded of the school’s Child Protection Policy and procedure to be followed in relation to child protection.

Parents are reminded of these procedures in a letter.

The Paisti faoi chúram list will be reviewed and updated each September. Teachers and SNA’s  will monitor particular pupils each in an effort to ensure the child is happy,following school routines and partaking to the best of their ability in school life.


Homework will reflect the active learning approach to SPHE described in this plan. Parents are encouraged to become active participants and engage with their child in assigned homework.


We will select resources/materials that are:

*      Reflective of our school ethos

*      In line with the principles of the curriculum

*      Age appropriate

*      Closely matched to specific objectives

*      Free of bias, racial or sexual stereotyping

*      Produced by a reputable agency

Resources are available from the SPHE Co-ordinator and an inventory provided to each teacher.

The following is a list of manuals being used:

  • Stay Safe, RSE manual, Walk Tall (NWHB), Up and Away, Out and About (NWHB), Be Safe,
  • Draft guidelines for children with mild learning disability(NCCA), Leavers’ Programme, Lifeskills for older learners, B/G Steem- test for self esteem.

Our software inventory contains a list of programmes which support SPHE. Teachers should not use

other computer  programmes or internet sites without consulting principal.


Suitable videos and DVD’s are stored in school. The DVD “Busy Bodies”, agreed with the Parents’ Association,  is used in 6th class only when teaching lessons on reproduction.The choice of video may be reviewed from time to time.


At present no textbook is in use. This may change in the future as new material becomes available.

Individual Teachers’ Planning and Reporting

Teachers should base their long- and short-term planning on the approaches set out in this document.

Work covered will be outlined in the Cuntas Miosúil.

Staff Development

Teachers will be made aware of any opportunities for further professional development through

Courses in Education Centres or other venues. Skills and expertise throughout the school are shared.

Parental Involvement

SPHE is a shared responsibility between family and school. The following arrangements have been made in this school:

  • Copies of the school plan for SPHE are available from the office.
  • Parents/guardians will be given the information booklet and Stay Safe booklet on Infant Day.
  • On enrolment parents will be asked to sign consent form giving/withdrawing permission for their child to participate in the SPHE/RSE programme.
  • Parents will be given copies of content objective prior to lessons.
  • Parents will be asked to discuss content objectives, especially in the “sensitive” issues prior to lessons.
  • When aspects of the SPHE plan are being reviewed parent representatives will be involved in plan.


Community Links

The school will liaise with the Health Promotion Unit of the local HSE and other agencies to assist

as appropriate in the school’s programme.

Success Criteria

The success of the plan will be measured by the following criteria:

  • Implementation of the SPHE curriculum will be evident in teachers’ work.
  • Continuity of content and methodology will be evident in teachers’ preparation and reports.
  • On-going assessment will show pupils are acquiring an understanding of concepts taught.
  • Feedback from pupils/parents/teachers/community will be considered.
  • The suggestions made by Inspector’s Reports will be acted upon.


Roles and Responsibilities

Class teachers are responsible for the implementation of the SPHE programme for their own classes. A designated teacher supports the implementation and is responsible for the distribution and monitoring of resources.


Progress made during the year will be reviewed at the June staff meeting. This plan will be reviewed

regularly to reflect the changing needs of the school.

Ratification and Communication

This plan was ratified by the Board of Management on ______________. The plan was communicated to teachers and implemented in classes from Sept.

Appendix 1        

Objectives that cover RSE & Stay Safe programmes

The following objectives cover the “sensitive” areas in the RSE and Stay Safe programmes. They will be addressed in both classes, year two serving to revise objectives covered in year one.


Strand Unit: Taking care of my body:

Knowing about my body

  • Name parts of the male and female body, using appropriate anatomical terms.


Safety and Protection:

Personal Safety

  • Identify situations and places that are safe and those where personal safety might be at risk.
1st and 2nd 

Strand Unit: Taking care of my body:

Knowing about my body

  • Name parts of the male and female body, using appropriate anatomical terms and identify some of their functions.

Strand Unit: Safety and Protection:

Personal Safety

  • Recognise and explore situations where children feel safe and those where safety might be at risk.


3rd and 4th

Strand Unit: Taking care of my body:

Knowing about my body

  • Realise the importance of caring for and treating his/her own body, and that of others, with dignity and respect.
  • Understand the physical changes taking place in both the male and female body
  • Realise that these changes do not occur at the same time but nonetheless are predictable and natural and that being different is normal.

Strand Unit: Growing and Changing:

As I grow I change

  • Recognise and discuss how feelings and emotions are affected by the physical changes that take place at puberty

Birth and New Life

  • Discuss the stages and sequence of development of the human baby, from conception to birth.

Strand Unit: Safety and Protection

Personal Safety

  • Identify people, places and situations that may threaten personal safety.


5th and 6th 

Strand Unit: Taking care of my body:

Knowing about my body

  • Recognise the importance of caring for and 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 changes 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: Growing and Changing:

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.

Birth and new life

  • Understand sexual intercourse, conception and birth within a context of a committed and loving relationship (6th class only)
  • Discuss and explore the responsibilities involved in being a parent and the emotional and physical maturity required to be a parent.

Strand Unit: Safety and protection

Personal Safety

  • Identify situations and places that may threaten personal safety

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