Relationships and Sexuality Policy

Introductory Statement:                                                                                                                                                   This policy, in accordance with the provisions of the Child Care Act (1991), Education Act (1998), Education (Welfare) Act (2000) and the revised ‘Primary School Curriculum Guidelines’ (1999), details the aims and the content of the agreed programme for the provision and the delivery of ‘Relationships & Sexuality Education (RSE) in Glenahulla N.S.. We trust that by detailing these procedures, it will assist all parties in relation to the content of this important subject area. The Chairperson / Principal will be happy to clarify any matters arising from this policy, should it be required. 

School Ethos

Glenahulla N.S. is a Catholic school which aims at promoting the full and harmonious development of all aspects of our pupils: intellectual, physical, emotional, cultural, moral and spiritual including a living relationship with God and with other people.

Glenahulla N.S. promotes a philosophy of life based on a belief in God and Jesus Christ. Glenahulla N.S. provides religious education for our pupils in accordance with the doctrines, practices and tradition of the Catholic Church and promotes the formation of pupils in the Catholic faith.

While we embrace the Catholic faith, we welcome and embrace the children of all creeds.

Definition of RSE

RSE 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. RSE also aims to provide opportunities for children and young people to learn about relationships and sexuality in ways that help them think and act in a moral, caring and responsible way.

Relationship of RSE to SPHE

Social, Personal and Health Education (SPHE) provides opportunities for pupils to learn basic personal and social skills which foster integrity, self-confidence and self- esteem while nurturing sensitivity to the feelings and rights of others. 

Current Provision

  • SPHE curriculum followed as per DES recommendations.
  • Use of RSE Manuals, Busy Bodies DVD and Busy Bodies booklets
  • Religious Education taught through the Alive O programme/ Grow in Love
  • Currently, the teachers cover all aspects of RSE with their classes on an annual basis.

Aims of our RSE programme

  • To help young people develop healthy friendships and relationships
  • To foster an understanding of and healthy attitude to, human sexuality and relationships in a moral, spiritual and social framework
  • To promote knowledge of and respect for human love, sexual intercourse and reproduction 
  • To understand the physical changes taking place with the onset of puberty
  • To promote a sense of wonder and awe at the process of birth and new life
  • To enable the child to feel comfortable with his/her sexuality and that of others

Guidelines for the Management and Organisation of RSE in our School

[1] Organisational Matters

  • Guidelines as laid down by the Department of Education and Skills and as discussed in this document will be followed.
  • It is envisaged that the programme will be taught in an integrated manner where possible.
  • The teacher’s right to choose is enshrined in the policy and if teachers do not wish to teach specific aspects of the programme or require additional resources, a suitable speaker will be employed by the BoM.  The teacher may need to plan the specific material to be covered and should be present during the talk as per circular 22/2010
  • Where staff members have to attend C.P.D. in this area, The Board of Management will cover the costs of these courses.

[2] Parents

  • Parents have the primary responsibility for educating their children in sexual matters.  The school R.S.E. programme acts as a support to parents, and parents retain the right to withdraw their children from classes which deal with the more sensitive issues.  Parents must put this request in writing (for future records) giving (i) an explanation why and (ii) a statement that they as parents will accept responsibility for teaching the RSE programme themselves to their child.
  • The programme is taught within the ethos of the school and contemporary 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.  Teachers are present at all times when guest speakers are visiting a class.
  • Parents are to be informed in advance of the programme content. [See Appendix 4 for sample letter] They will also be informed in advance of the formal lessons on the sensitive areas of the programme e.g. Puberty, sexual intercourse. 
  • Parents will be offered a chance to view any DVDs being used in the teaching of RSE e.g. Busy Bodies
  • Parents have the responsibility to become involved, to inform themselves of the programme content, to prepare children for the information they will acquire around the sensitive areas and to discuss areas covered in school in RSE/ SPHE with their children.
  • If a parent has a particular concern/ issue in relation to the teachings of the RSE programme, they are encouraged to discuss same with the teacher or the principal.
  • As always, parents are requested to inform teachers of special family situations. These will be dealt with in confidence. It is the experience of the teachers that it is to everyone’s benefit if they are kept informed.

[3] Curriculum Matters

  • The Curriculum by NCCA will be followed as published and will be taught in Infants to 6th class. All resources used will be in keeping with the ethos of the school and the policy. Each class teacher will teach the content for their class level.
  • Children will be encouraged to discuss material being covered in class with their parents or guardians. Where possible handouts, worksheets etc. will be provided to facilitate this; e.g. Home-School Links pages of the RSE manuals.
  • In a class situation, children will be encouraged to recognise that certain information is for them only i.e. that it is inappropriate for them to discuss information received about puberty, intercourse and birth with younger siblings, friends from outside school et.  It will be explained that other children will be given this information by their own parents and teachers when it is developmentally appropriate for them to receive it. However, the school cannot take any responsibility for what is discussed on the yard.
  • A respect for personal privacy and information will be emphasised. Teachers will neither give nor request personal information.  Children will also be taught to recognise that certain personal disclosures are inappropriate within a group setting.

Topics covered up to 2nd class include:

  • Keeping Safe
  • Bodily changes during growth and birth
  • 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) [*See Appendix 1 for details]
  • Naming the parts of the male/female body using appropriate anatomical terms and identify some of their functions (1st/ 2nd ) [*See Appendix 1 for details]

Topics covered up to sixth class include:

  • Bodily changes
  • Healthy eating, personal hygiene, exercise
  • Keeping Safe
  • Expressing feelings
  • Family relationships- Same Love/ Different Families (INTO Resource)
  • 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 (Fourth class)
  • Reproductive system of male/female adults (Fifth & Sixth Class) [*See Appendix 1 for details]
  • Understanding sexual intercourse, conception and birth within the context of a loving, committed relationship. (Sixth Class) [*See Appendix 1 for details]

Sensitive issues (in italic above) may be dealt with in the following class groupings;

Puberty:

Boys and girls mixed together in fourth class for main lessons.

Mini separate lessons for girls and the boys in the following days to allow them additional time to answer more specific questions / concerns

Puberty, Intercourse & Birth:

Boys and girls mixed in sixth class

[4] Dealing with Questions

  • A question box may be used throughout lessons where appropriate
  • Teachers will previously decide upon specific language and concepts for each class level in line with the SPHE curriculum and school ethos. [*See Appendix 1 for details]
  • Children’s questions will be dealt with, taking into account the following criteria when relevant
    • -By being aware of circumstances in which the question has arisen
    • -By clarifying what information is required
    • -By deciding, if the issue is relevant, who is it relevant to
    • -By giving a developmentally or age- appropriate answer
    • -By deferring the question as one which will be answered in the next               lesson, one which should be answered at home or one which will be answered more fully in the future
  • Students with SEN: Taking into account student’s cognitive, social and emotional development and their class level (4th, 5th & 6th Class), instruction on the sensitive aspects of RSE, will be based on individual needs and decided together by parents and teachers during the child’s IEP meeting.  Careful consideration will be given to the NCCA Guidelines for Moderate and Severe and Profound General Learning Disabilities for RSE provision. 
  • There will be ongoing assessment of the programme through observation by and feedback from parents, teachers and pupils.
  • Please refer to [Appendix 5] for PDST best practice guidelines regarding Answering questions

Provision of Ongoing Support

  • Parents welcome to view the curriculum and resource materials if they so wish.
  • Regular contact with parents prior to the teaching of lessons involving “sensitive issues” in the form of the home/school link page accompanying such lessons in the RSE Resource Books. Parents have the primary responsibility for educating their children in sexual matters.  The school R.S.E. programme acts as a support to parents, and parents retain the right to withdraw their children from classes which deal with the more sensitive issues.  Parents must put this request in writing (for future records) giving (i) an explanation why and (ii) a statement that they as parents will accept responsibility for teaching the RSE programme themselves to their child.

Links to other Policy Areas

  • Child Protection Policy
  • SPHE Policy

Child Protection

The school follows the DES child protection guidelines and has a child protection policy with the Principal as Designated Liaison Person. In cases of disclosure, the DLP will follow the procedures as set out in Child First.

The staff has availed of training in:

  • Stay Safe
  • Relationships and Sexuality Programme (RSE)
  • Internet Safety and Social Media Awareness
  • Zippy’s Friends

The whole school plan is available in the principal’s office.  Each teacher is responsible for his/her long term and short term planning, comprising of a yearly and fortnightly scheme of work.  A Cuntas Míosúil is retained in the Principal’s Office.

Evaluation:

  • Teacher observation
  • Inventory of what needs to be changed
  • Ensuring all strands are covered
  • Teacher designed tasks and tests and self-evaluation
  • Feedback from pupils’ parents
  • Community feedback

Roles and Responsibilities:                                                                 

The school community of BoM, staff, pupils and parents play a key role in the formulation and implementation of the plan.  

Review                                                                                                                                                            This policy was reviewed in February 2019. It was ratified by the Board and is presently being implemented by all teachers. It will be reviewed informally at staff meetings and a formal review is due to take place in February 2021 or earlier if necessary. As with other school policies, parents and the wider school community can access them on our school website.

Ratification 

This policy was adopted by the Board of Management on _________________

Signed: _________________________         Signed: __________________________ 

Chairperson of Board of Management            Principal 

Date: __________________________           Date: __________________________ 

[APPENDIX 1]

Lesson Content – Sensitive Issues
ClassLessonStrand UnitLanguageDateHome/School 
J.I.S.I.Theme 6Caring for new life p.137Theme 7My Body p.147Growing and changing
Taking care of my body
Penis/Vagina or VulvaNaming parts of male and female body using appropriate anatomical termsTerm 2 every second yearS.I. RSE Manual p. 145
S.I. RSE Manual p. 156
1st2ndTheme 6The wonder of new life p.59/p.151Theme 7How my body works p67When my body needs special care p.161Theme 8Growing means changing p. 77/p.171Growing and changing
Taking care of my body
As above: introduce womb, breast, breast feeding, and urethra.Naming as above and identify some of the functions.Term 2 every second yearRSE Manual p. 65, 160, 169
3rd4thTheme 6Preparing for new life p.69Theme 6 from 4th classThe wonder of new life p.169Theme 8As I grow I change p.93Theme 8 (girls only in 4th class)Growing and changing p.195Growing and changingDiscuss the stages and sequence of development of human baby in the womb. Umbilical cord. Any questions as to how the baby got there cannot be answered by the teacher.Term 2 or 3 at the discretion of the teacher
4th class will cover content every year
RSE Manual p. 181
5th6thTheme 6My body grows and changes p.81Theme 7The wonder of new life p.93Theme 8Caring for new life p.103Theme 2Different kinds of love p.141Growing and changing
Taking care of my body
Changes that occur in boys and girls at the onset of puberty.Reproductive system of male/female adults.Understand sexual intercourse, conception and birth within context of loving , committed relationship, Term 2 or 3 at the discretion of the teacher
6th class will cover content every year
RSE Manual p. 92,101,112,149
Busy Body Booklets and DVDS

[APPENDIX 2]

Teaching Resources for SPHE

  • SPHE Curriculum & Teacher Guidelines
  • Making the Links
  • Walk Tall
  • Relationships & Sexuality Education (RSE) Manuals
  • Stay Safe Programme
  • What is a drug? DVD (6th class) available from info@pdst.ie
  • Webwise
  • Friends for Life
  • Be Safe (Activity- resource pack on road, fire and water safety) available from education@rsa.ie
  • Busy Bodies (for teaching RSE to 4th-6th classes) available from www.healthpromotion.ie 
  • Food dudes www.fooddudes.ie
  • Taste Buds www.safefoods.eu 
  • School Work’s – Resource on Right to Education, Child labour, Fair-trade info@into.ie 
  • What do you say? – Resource on Children’s Rights, available from Ombudsman for Children Office, Millennium House, Strand Street Great, Dublin 1, 01-8656800
  • www. pdst.ie (lots of information and resources on all aspects of SPHE under ‘Health & Wellbeing’ on the website)
  • www.healthinfo.ie or www.healthpromotion.ie  (Busy Bodies DVDs)
  • www.actionforhealthykids.org 
  • www.agriaware.ie
  • www.dentalhealth.ie 
  • www.ndc.ie (information on dairy produce in Ireland)
  • www.sparky.org (covers most aspects of SPHE curricular topics including Internet Safety. 
  • SPHE notice board and Online school server (–curricular areas- SPHE) contain more information on additional websites and programmes available.

[APPENDIX 3]

Glenahulla National School          Mitchelstown, Co.Cork                                                        Roll No: 12446      glenahulla.ns@gmail.com      www.glenahullans.com    

______________________________________________________ 

Stay Safe 

Date: _____________

Dear Parent(s)/Guardian(s),

We are planning to teach a personal safety education programme called Stay Safe over the next few weeks. The aim of the Stay Safe programme is to teach children personal safety skills so they can look after themselves in situations which could be upsetting or dangerous. It deals initially with common situations which most children may experience at some stage or other, e.g. getting lost or being bullied. The programme also teaches children the safety skills necessary to protect themselves from physical or sexual abuse and emphasises the importance of telling a trusted adult about any problems they have. 

The Stay Safe is part of the Social, Personal and Health Education (S.P.H.E.) curriculum which all primary schools are required to implement. Co-operation between parents and teachers is essential to the success of this programme. It is important that parents are aware of the content of the Stay Safe lessons and that you are able to discuss the lessons with your child. Your child may bring home worksheets which will inform you of the topics being covered in class and how you can reinforce the messages at home. 

You can familiarise yourself with the content of the Stay Safe lessons at http://www.staysafe.ie/teachers/resources.htm. Please contact the class teacher if you wish to discuss the programme further. 

Thank you for your co-operation,

_________________________________

Class Teacher

[APPENDIX 4]

Glenahulla National School          Mitchelstown, Co.Cork                                                        Roll No: 12446      glenahulla.ns@gmail.com      www.glenahullans.com    

______________________________________________________ 

RSE

Date:_____________

Dear Parent(s)/Guardian(s),

Relationships and Sexuality Education (“RSE”) is an integral part of the Social, Personal, and Health Education (S.P.H.E) curriculum as per Department of Education & Skills guidelines. The sensitive elements of the Relationships & Sexuality Education programme that will be covered with your child in the forthcoming weeks are summarised in the box below. It is important that you talk to your son/daughter about these topics so your child will feel prepared for the content of the programme. During all lessons the anatomically correct names for body parts will be used (please see attached Appendix A)

JUNIOR INFANTS TO SECOND CLASS

MYSELF:
Taking Care of My Body: Caring for one’s body, respect for one’s body and that of others, diet, hygiene, being able to name parts of male and female body using appropriate anatomical terms. 
Growing and Changing: Understanding growth and change, exploring feelings, becoming aware of new life and birth, understanding a baby’s needs.

THIRD CLASS TO SIXTH CLASS


Taking Care of My Body: Understanding health, dangers of substance misuse, personal hygiene, nutrition. For 4th Class: understanding physical changes for boys and girls (puberty). For 5th/6th class children: understanding physical and other changes at puberty, understanding the male and female reproductive system.  
Growing and Changing: Identifying and discussing feelings, having a positive sense of self. For 3rd/4th class children: recognising how feelings are influenced by puberty, being able to discuss the development of the human baby during pregnancy, For 6th Class children: understanding sexual intercourse, conception and birth in the context of a committed, loving relationship.

If you have any questions/queries please make an appointment to see the class teacher who will be happy to facilitate a meeting if required. Our SPHE/RSE policy is also available on our school website http://www.glenahullans.com

Thank you,                                                              _____________________________Class Teacher

[APPENDIX A]

ClassLessonStrand UnitLanguage
J.I.S.I.Theme 6Caring for new life p.137Theme 7My Body p.147Growing and changing
Taking care of my body
Penis/Vagina or VulvaNaming parts of male and female body using appropriate anatomical terms
1st2ndTheme 6The wonder of new life p.59/p.151Theme 7How my body works p67When my body needs special care p.161Theme 8Growing means changing p. 77/p.171Growing and changing
Taking care of my body
As above: introduce womb, breast, breast feeding, and urethra.Naming as above and identify some of the functions.
3rd4thTheme 6Preparing for new life p.69Theme 6 from 4th classThe wonder of new life p.169Theme 8As I grow I change p.93Theme 8 (girls only in 4th class)Growing and changing p.195Growing and changingDiscuss the stages and sequence of development of human baby in the womb. Umbilical cord. Any questions as to how the baby got there cannot be answered by the teacher.
5th6thTheme 6My body grows and changes p.81Theme 7The wonder of new life p.93Theme 8Caring for new life p.103Theme 2Different kinds of love p.141Growing and changing
Taking care of my body
Changes that occur in boys and girls at the onset of puberty.Reproductive system of male/female adults.Understand sexual intercourse, conception and birth within context of a loving, committed relationship.

[APPENDIX 5]

PDST best practice guidelines regarding Answering questions

  • While it is important to create an environment in which a child feels free to ask questions, it is also important that a safe environment is created for all the children in the class. 
  • Teachers are advised to set boundaries in the teaching of RSE as they would in any other subject. Ground rules are set as to the seriousness of the issues and children are encouraged to ask responsible questions (e.g. agreeing a contract – for an example please see [Appendix 6])
  • Children anonymously write their questions and those deemed appropriate are dealt with by the class teacher and the RSE guest speaker (if applicable)
  • If using a “Question Box” please remember

(i) All children must put a question ‘piece of paper’ into the box…if they have no question they must simply write on their ‘piece of paper’ the following – “I don’t have a question”

(ii) Do not let children look in the box

  • In so far as possible all children’s questions are answered in a factual and age appropriate manner.
  • When deciding and filtering whether it is appropriate to answer a question or not (orally or from the “Question Box”) the teacher should consider:
  • The age and stage of development of the children
  • The ethos the school
  • The RSE policy
  • The content objectives of the SPHE curriculum guidelines
  • Children, whose questions have not been deemed age appropriate and/or within the parameters of the content, are referred to their parents for answers on those issues. The teacher may suggest that the child discuss that particular question with his parent/guardian outside of school
  • Suggested ways of setting limits are to say:
  • I’ll do my best to answer your questions but I may not be able to answer all of them
  • Would you be able to talk to your mum or dad about that?
  • That’s something you’ll learn about as you get older.
  • We agreed in our contract that we wouldn’t ask anyone personal questions.

[APPENDIX 6]

‘Contract’ RSE Ground Rules:

  • Respect For ALL
  • Laughter is allowed but No Laughing at Anybody
  • No Personal Questions
  • We don’t name or talk about anybody during these lessons
  • Discuss all content with Mum or Dad, but not with anyone younger or not here today.