Relationship and Sexuality Education

Mission Statement

Scoil Mhuire Naofa is a Catholic, co-educational school which promotes Catholic teaching and values. Within this school the staff, parents and children all endeavour to work together to form a caring community. Relationship and Sexuality Education is taught within the context of a Catholic ethos and also in the context of a caring community which values and respects the uniqueness of the individual.

Definition of SPHE:

Social, Personal and Health Education (SPHE) provides particular opportunities to foster the personal development, health and well-being of the individual child, to help him/her to create and maintain supportive relationships and become an active and responsible citizen in society……..(Pg 2, SPHE Curriculum Statement).

Definition of RSE:

Relationship and Sexuality Education encompasses the acquisition of knowledge and understanding, and the development of attitudes, beliefs and values about relationships, sexual identity and intimacy.
Relationships and Sexuality Education seeks to provide children with opportunities to acquire knowledge and understanding of relationships and human sexuality, through processes which will enable them to form values and establish behaviours within a moral, spiritual and social framework.
(Pg 7, Interim Guidelines).

Relationship of RSE to SPHE:

All of the RSE will be delivered within the context of the school SPHE Plan.

What the School Currently Provides:

Our current SPHE Plan is based on Making the Links and integrates content from The Walk Tall Programme, Stay Safe and RSE.


The Aims of RSE are:
• To enhance the personal development, self-esteem and well-being of the child.
• To foster in the child a sense of care and respect for himself/herself and others and an appreciation of the dignity of every human being.
• To help the child to 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 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. (Interim Guidelines Pg. 9 and SPHE Curriculum Guidelines Pg 10)

Basic Principles underpinning our Policy

• Parents are acknowledged as the primary educators of their children and the school will work with them in a supportive role.
• The school will endeavour to support parents by inviting an RSE instructor to present an information session before the RSE Block starts (Probably late February).
• Parents will be informed that they are welcome to view RSE lesson content at the school should they wish to do so
• Parents will be kept informed of the content/progress of RSE through the use of Home/School Links pages from the DES RSE Resource Materials.
• Parents will be informed of their right to withdraw a pupil from RSE-specific lessons on the understanding that the parent is taking full responsibility for this aspect of education themselves. It is the responsibility of the parent to inform the school in writing of this decision.
• Children who are withdrawn from RSE-specific lessons will go to another teacher’s classroom.
• If a child is so withdrawn, the school cannot guarantee that other children will not inform the child in question of the content of the lesson from which the child was withdrawn or that children will not refer incidentally in class to aspects of the lesson during subsequent days or weeks
• In planning for RSE we will ensure that over a two-year time frame children will study elements from all the strand units.
• All content objectives will be covered by the time children leave 6th Class
• Teachers will teach only the topics laid down for the class and will answer only those questions on the programme for that year. The school will endeavour to accommodate any teacher who does not wish to teach a particular topic. However, the preferred option for our school is that the class teacher would teach the full RSE course.
• Where a teacher does not wish to teach a particular topic, another teacher on the staff will be asked to do it.
• A suitable guest speaker may be invited in to deliver the content of the programme to 5th /6th Class. All information delivered by such a speaker will be informed by the content objectives of the SPHE Curriculum. A teacher will remain in the classroom at all times during the guest speaker’s presentation.
• Should a pupil require information that is not in line with the curriculum content and not considered to be age-appropriate for the general body of pupils the teacher will respond by saying …we are not dealing with this now. This topic will be covered at a later stage in RSE.
• Everyone has a right to privacy (see Universal Declaration of Human Rights and UN Convention on the Rights of the Child). Teachers will not answer personal questions about themselves nor require the child to give information of a personal nature, which they do not wish to share.
• As part of the Science Curriculum the identification of the parts of the human body is included at each level of the primary programme and children will be helped to develop ideas about the human body, growth, movement and breathing…………the development of children’s ideas about body changes and reproduction will be done in accordance with the school’s policy on SPHE. (Science Curriculum Teacher Guidelines Pg. 10)

Management and Organisation:

Relationship and Sexuality Education (RSE) will be taught as an integral part of Social, Personal and health Education (SPHE) and will be taught in this context (see School Plan). The curriculum is spiral in nature (i.e. similar content is revisited at different stages throughout the child’s time in school) and all content will be delivered developmentally throughout the child’s time in primary school. RSE-specific education (or core RSE education) will be covered in the strand units Taking Care of My Body; Growing and Changing; and Safety and Protection. (See Appendix 1).

Multi-class situation:

Over a two-year time frame students will study all elements from all strand units.

Fourth Class Girls:

The topic of Menstruation will be covered each year with Fourth Class girls. It will be delivered by a female teacher.


The RSE Programme, generally speaking, will be delivered to both boys and girls together as a class unit.

Special Needs Students:

Lesson differentiation will be used where required.


The acquisition of appropriate language in RSE is crucially important to enable children to communicate confidently about themselves, their sexuality and their relationships. (Interim Guidelines Pg. 53). Children can be disadvantaged by not knowing the biological terms for parts of the body. (DES Resource Materials for Education and Sexuality Education, Jnr/Snr Infants, pp. 148-149). (See also Going Forward Together. Pg. 17)

Therefore we will give children the correct and appropriate language as outlined in RSE resource Materials as follows:

Jnr/Snr Infants:

  1. term womb
  2. terms penis and vagina (urethra) will be taught as the obvious physical difference between boy and girl
  3. term breast-feeding may be used in conversation


  1. penis and urethra will be taught/revised in describing the passing of urine
  2. (See DES RSE Resource Materials, 1st/2nd Class, Let’s Talk About What Happens to the Food we Eat, pp 70-71)
  3. Teacher will teach that the baby is in the womb for 9 months and may be breast of bottle-fed after birth.

Third /Fourth:

  1. developing foetus and menstruation
  2. Umbilical cord and navel taught /revised


Puberty, human reproduction and sexual intercourse are taught in the context of a committed loving relationship. This is done using the language outlined in the DES RSE Resource Materials for 5th/6th. The DVD Busy Bodies will be shown to both 5th and 6th Class.

Resources to be used:

  • Resource Materials for Relationship and Sexuality Education: Junior Infants to Sixth Class (Department of Education and Science).
  • Anatomical Dolls
  • Busy Bodies DVD (2 copies in school)
  • Busy Bodies Booklets (30 copies)
  • Resource Pack for Relationship and sexuality Education in Primary Schools: (RSE Office Drumcondra)

Ongoing Support and development for Staff and Parents:

Staff members and parents will be notified of and encouraged to attend the RSE training, which is run by Kildare Education Centre.


A Review of this Policy will take place in May 2011.

Timeframe for Implementation:

This Policy will be implemented following ratification by the Board of Management.


This Policy was ratified by The Board of Management of Scoil Mhuire Naofa, Rhode.