RSE (Relationships and Sexuality Education) Policy
This policy aims at ensuring that a high-quality, comprehensive programme of RSE is delivered to the students of Pobalscoil Inbhear Scéine in a professional manner and with a view to the holistic development of the student. It aims at delivering this education as a RSE module within the SPHE programme at Junior and Senior level.
The policy will apply to all aspects of teaching and learning about relationships and sexuality within our school. Discussion about relationships and sexuality also takes place in classes other than SPHE/RSE e.g., Science, Biology, Religious Education, Home Economics, Social Education etc. and it is therefore important that all teachers are familiar with the RSE policy.
The policy will apply to all school staff-teaching staff and non-teaching staff, to students, Board of Management, parents/guardians, visiting speakers and external facilitators.
The original policy was developed in 2011 and involved a series of meetings and discussions with the core working group, the entire school staff, the Board of Management, the parents through the parents Association and students through the Student Council. It is reviewed every two years.
|Relationship to characteristic spirit of the school|
- The Mission Statement of Pobalscoil Inbhear Scéine refers to our commitment ‘to the care and development of each individual’ and to the creation of a ‘safe, caring and happy environment’. In this context our RSE policy affirms these values, acknowledging the significance of integrated and holistic human development which fosters in students an awareness of and a capacity for healthy and fulfilling human relationships.
- The RSE policy reflects the core values of our Code of Courtesy i.e., active listening, mutual respect, kindness and inclusivity.
- Our RSE policy reflects and respects the religious values encapsulated in the Deeds of Trust of Community Schools.
- The RSE policy recognises that spiritual, moral and ethical issues will arise in the teaching of RSE. The policy is intended as a guide to teachers in the treatment of these issues in accordance with the ethos of the school.
- In Circular 0037/2010, it is noted that schools are required to deliver all aspects of the RSE curriculum, including those in relation to sexual identity, contraception, sexually transmitted infections etc. It is also noted that in providing RSE, teachers are not conveying their own personal views on sensitive issues but facilitating students in discussing a wide range of views in relation to topics within the RSE programme in a manner respectful of the school ethos.
|Rationale and Objectives|
Social, Personal and Health Education looks at issues such as relationships, building self-esteem, emotional wellbeing, 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, personal safety, and social responsibility.
- Sexuality is a key element of healthy social and personal development. Young people are exposed to a bewildering variety of messages about sexuality and sexual activity. Schools, in consultation with parents/guardians, need to reflect on how to provide for the needs of their students.
- The Education Act, 1998 requires that schools should promote the social and personal development of students and provide health education for them.
- Section 4 of the Rules and Programme for Secondary Schools requires schools to have an agreed policy for RSE and a suitable RSE programme in place for all students at both junior and senior cycle. At Junior cycle, the RSE programme is part of Social, Personal and Health Education (SPHE).
- We refer to two further circulars that pertain to this issue: RSE 0027/2000, SPHE and RSE Best Practice for Post-Primary Schools, 0023/2010 and 0037/2010
- We recognise that the effectiveness of an RSE programme is dependent on a collaborative policy process involving all stakeholders- teachers, parents/guardians, members of the Board of Management and students.
The objectives of the RSE Policy include the following:
- It will ensure clarity and consensus on how RSE is taught in the school, incorporating collaborative planning and Student Voice
- It will articulate the relationship of RSE to SPHE.
- It will articulate the aims of the RSE programme.
- It will clarify the rights, roles and responsibilities of all within the school community in relation to the RSE programme, with particular reference to school staff, students, parents/guardians and the Board of Management.
- It will ensure that teachers, parents/guardians and students understand how the teaching of RSE is linked to the school ethos.
- It will provide information on the practicalities of delivering the programme.
- It will offer students an opportunity to learn about relationships and sexuality in a safe and caring environment, fostering in them the capacity to think and act in a moral, caring and responsible way.
- It aims to help students to understand and develop healthy friendships.
- It will help them to have a better understanding of human sexuality and to have a positive attitude towards their own sexuality and that of others.
- It will help students to have understanding of and respect for human reproduction.
- It will make students aware of diversity, heighten their sensitivity to others and foster attitudes of inclusivity.
It is acknowledged that in a course of limited duration these aims are aspirational.
- Provision of Training and Staff Development.
- The school has appointed a staff member as Coordinator of SPHE who will work with a core team to plan the school programme.
- All teachers assigned to teach RSE will be offered training in this area.
- Ordinarily, teachers are consulted prior to being timetabled for SPHE/RSE.
- The school encourages and welcomes a gender balance among the teachers assigned to SPHE/RSE.
- All teachers of these subjects have access to the resource materials which are available online, shared via email and stored on a shared folder in OneDrive.
- Inclusion of Parents/Guardians
- Parents are the primary educators of their children and their role in education concerning relationships and sexuality is seen by the school as paramount.
- Parents have a responsibility to work with school and students to ensure the students gain maximum understanding of RSE before leaving school.
- Parents were invited to participate in the process of drawing up a school policy on RSE and its subsequent review.
- Ordinarily, parents are informed of the RSE programme at the Information Evening for First Year Parents and by letter on enrolment in the school. (see Appendix 1). They may request to withdraw their child from the RSE programme/class, should they so wish. This is communicated in writing to the school Principal.
- Through the school website, parents are also made aware of the content of the SPHE/RSE programmes and of the other school policies which relate to these subjects.
- Ethical/Moral Considerations
- Answering Questions: While it is important to create an environment in SPHE/RSE in which students can discuss issues openly, teachers may not be able to answer all questions asked by students and will set appropriate limits. Students may ask questions which are not appropriate to a classroom setting. On these, and on all questions, teachers should use their professional judgement, be guided by the age of the students, the RSE curriculum and the RSE policy for the school. Reference should also be made to the “Ground Rules”, which are drawn up with the SPHE/RSE class at the beginning of each year.
- Confidentiality: While students should be encouraged not to disclose personal or private information in SPHE/RSE classes, there may be times when they do talk about personal issues. It is important that students are made aware of the limits of confidentiality from the beginning and that teachers do not give an unconditional guarantee of confidentiality. Confidentiality should be respected unless a teacher becomes aware that a child is at risk of being harmed or has been harmed, in which case the appropriate action should be to notify the Designated Liaison Person, the Principal, who will then follow the procedures outlined in the Child Protection Procedures and Guidelines for Post-Primary Schools. However, if a student is not at risk but chooses to confide in a teacher about something, the teacher can and should keep this information to him or herself.
- Students should also be made aware they too may need to make judgements regarding confidentiality when sensitive information indicating risk is disclosed to them by friends.
- Sexual Activity:
- The RSE policy statement gives teachers a framework, related to morals and values within which the issue of sexual activity should be addressed. These are to be found within the RSE Programme and resources itself and as articulated in the earlier section on the ‘Relationship to the characteristic spirit of the school’.
- Teachers will give young people information on the age of consent which is 17 years of age for both males and females, for heterosexual and homosexual relationships. Teachers who become aware that a student is sexually active under the age of consent must bring this information to the Principal who will then inform the parents.
- Contraception: The RSE Curriculum Guidelines state that the subject of contraception will be covered within the Senior Cycle RSE programme. It may happen, depending on the perceived needs of Junior Cycle students, that contraception may be discussed earlier, using appropriate materials.
- Sexual Identity: The post-primary RSE Curriculum Guidelines includes the subject of sexual orientation which will be taught at Junior and Senior Cycle levels. This is consistent with the school’s Anti-Bullying Policy.
The Equal Status Act, 2000 and the Equality Act, 2004 prohibit discrimination across nine grounds, including sexual orientation. Consideration needs to be given to the messages that are conveyed if the subject of homosexuality is not discussed in a clear and open way in schools. The teacher will endeavour to create a safe environment in the classroom within which such a discussion may take place.
- Sexually Transmitted Infections (STI’s): Given that rates of STI transmission are increasing, it is important that the subject is addressed in school. While awareness of STI’s is one of the objectives of the Second Year SPHE/RSE syllabus, STI’s are mainly addressed in Senior Cycle.
- Practical Issues
- SPHE/RSE is time-tabled for 100 hours over the three years of Junior Cycle.
- Provision is made for one hour of SPHE/RSE per week at Senior Cycle.
- Class groups for SPHE/RSE are mixed gender of no more 30 pupils in compliance with guidelines issued by The Department of Education and Skills.
- In addition, the SPHE coordinator will arrange for extra input on RSE from a suitably qualified external facilitator for Senior Cycle students, normally Fifth Years and provide the visitor, well in advance of the visit, with a copy of this RSE policy. After gaining approval from the Principal for the visit, the organiser makes the visitor aware of the ethos of the school and the manner of delivery of the RSE programme.
- Children with special needs may need more help than others in coping with the physical and emotional aspects of growing up; they may also need more help in learning what sorts of behaviour are and are not acceptable. Therefore, differentiated lessons will be provided for children with special education needs in RSE classes, in cooperation with the Learning Support Department.
- Parents will be provided with a booklet that outlines the RSE course at Junior and Senior Cycle on enrolment.
- Parents requesting further information will be invited to a meeting and directed to the school website Policy section.
- Parents do not have to give reasons for withdrawal of their child from RSE. However, we respectfully invite them to do so in person or by phone in order that perhaps we can resolve misunderstandings. Once a parent’s request to withdraw is made that request must be complied with until revoked by the parent.
|Links to other policies and to curriculum delivery|
- a) Links to related school policies
Within the framework of the overall School Plan, the relevant school policies that are already in place, have been examined with reference to this RSE Policy.
The following policies have been taken into consideration in the development of this policy:
- Child Safeguarding Statement and Child Protection Procedures 2017
- SEN Policy
- Acceptable Use Policy
- Pastoral Care Policy
- Critical Incident Policy
- Guidance Plan
- Anti-Bullying Policy
- Substance Use Policy.
- Code of Behaviour
- b) Links to Curriculum delivery
- Social, Personal and Health Education (SPHE) is timetabled as part of the Junior Cycle core curriculum. SPHE provides students with opportunities to develop the skills and competencies to care for themselves and others and to make informed decisions about their health, personal lives and social development. This includes providing information on relationships and sexuality.
- The SPHE Senior Cycle 2011 NCCA curriculum incorporates Senior Cycle RSE.
- Aspects of RSE are delivered across the curriculum, through subjects such as Religious Education, Science, Biology, Home Economics and Social Education. Pobalscoil Inbhear Scéine endeavours to ensure that all students receive a full and balanced RSE programme from First Year through to Sixth Year.
|Implementation arrangements, roles, and responsibilities|
- The Principal on behalf of the Board of Management will co-ordinate implementation of the RSE policy.
- Pobalscoil Inbhear Scéine will offer ongoing training for teachers and the policy committee where necessary to help them implement the RSE programme. Information regarding courses or training for parents may be offered and organised by the Parents’ Association/BOM/school.
- Relevant RSE school resources will be sourced, stored, and updated by the school SPHE -Coordinator.
Ratification & Communication
This policy will be available to parents, teachers and the BOM and amended when consensus has been reached by all parties. The final agreed policy will be presented to the BOM, to be ratified and then circulated to all parties involved.
Parents/guardians will be informed of the RSE Policy from the time of enrolment of the student; a booklet outlining the teaching programme for RSE will be given to parents. It will also be available on the school website, www.kenmarecs.com and available in the school Office.
Monitoring the implementation of the policy
The SPHE Co-ordinator in association with the school management will monitor the implementation of this policy.
Reviewing and evaluating the policy
The policy will be reviewed and evaluated every two years under the direction of the Board of Management. This process will be co-ordinated by the SPHE Coordinator and Student Support Committee, in consultation with the wider school community. On-going review and evaluation will take cognisance of changing information, guidelines, legislation and feedback from parents/guardians, students, teachers, and others. The SPHE co-ordinator will have the role of monitoring aspects of the policy. This policy will be revised as necessary in the light of such review and evaluation and within the framework of school planning.
The following indicators will be used to gauge the impact and effectiveness of the policy, at review.
- RSE is being successfully taught through SPHE for all relevant students.
- resource material is available to teachers.
- appropriate in-service for teachers is available and relevant teachers are availing of it.
- students are aware of the policy.
- parents/guardians are aware of the policy.
- positive feedback is received from teachers, other school staff, students, parents/guardians, members of board of management and trustees.
The following may be considered to support the process of review and evaluation:
- a confidential survey of students and staff
- feedback from student council or the student body.
- parent/guardian feedback, including at parent/teacher meetings.
- a comment/suggestion box.
Policy was reviewed: May 2023 Next date for review: May 2025
Appendix 1: Booklet for parents and guardians.
Pobalscoil Inbhear Scéine
Relationships and Sexuality Education (RSE)
Booklet for Parents/Guardians
Pobalscoil Inbhear Scéine
Social and Personal Health Education (SPHE) is a core subject for all students in our school. It is timetabled for 100 hours over the three years of junior Cycle and one hour per week at Senior Cycle and is a continuation of SPHE which is taught in Primary School.
This course aims to build students’ self-awareness and positive self-worth; to develop the knowledge, understanding, skills, dispositions and values that will support them to lead fulfilling and healthy lives; empower them to create, nurture and maintain respectful and loving relationships with self and others; and enhance their capacity to contribute positively to society.
This booklet sets out the content of the Relationships and Sexuality Education (RSE) strand which is taught as part of the Social and Personal Health Education (SPHE) curriculum for Junior and Senior cycle students.
Note that our full RSE Policy is available in the policy section of our school website, www.kenmarecs.com .
Mr D Healy,
Relationships and Sexuality Education (RSE)
The content of SPHE in Junior Cycle is described under four strands with RSE specifically addressed in Strand 3.
Strand 1: Understanding myself and others.
This strand focuses on developing self-awareness and self-esteem and building some of the foundational skills and dispositions needed for healthy relationships and to thrive in life, including communicating and negotiating, listening, showing empathy, respecting difference, and self-management/self-regulation.
Strand 2: Making healthy choices.
This strand offers opportunities for students to consider how they can make healthy choices to support their wellbeing. It explores what being healthy might look like for a teenager, what helps or gets in the way of making healthy choices and how to access reliable information to support good choices. Students will also practice the skills needed for making healthy decisions and come to understand contextual factors, such as family, peer, media and social pressures, that influence decisions.
Strand 3: Relationships and Sexuality (RSE)This strand explores the cognitive, physical, emotional and social aspects of relationships and sexuality through a positive, inclusive, rights and responsibilities-based approach. The focus is on family relationships, friendships, romantic and potential sexual relationships in the
future. The details are below:
Strand 4: Emotional wellbeing
This strand primarily focuses on nurturing emotional wellbeing and promoting positive mental health. It helps students develop problem solving and coping skills for dealing with the emotional ups and downs of life, explores how they can support themselves and others in challenging times and discusses where/how to find support, if needed.
SPHE in Senior Cycle is built around five areas of learning. These areas of learning focus on what is important for students in senior cycle to know, understand and be able to do in order to make and maintain healthy lifestyle decisions. The five areas of learning are:
- Mental health
- Gender studies
- Substance use
- Relationships and Sexuality Education (RSE) (see below * for further details)
- Physical activity and nutrition.
* The objectives of RSE strand are to:
- explore personal thoughts, values, attitudes and feelings about relationships.
- develop an understanding of the different types of relationships, what is important in them and the skills to enhance relationships.
- promote empathy with others who have different cultural values, attitudes and beliefs about family, relationships, sex and sexuality.
- develop students’ knowledge, understanding and skills in support of sexual and reproductive health.
- develop students’ understanding of sexuality and sexual orientation and the importance of an inclusive environment.
- develop personal and interpersonal skills which support beginning, maintaining and ending relationships.
- develop skills for coping with peer pressure, conflict, and threats to personal safety.