NORTH KILDARE EDUCATE TOGETHER NATIONAL SCHOOL
RELATIONSHIPS AND SEXUALITY EDUCATION POLICY
Our School Philosophy
Our school, the NKETNS aims to create a warm and stimulating environment where children work towards realising their highest potential. Parents, children and all of the school staff are on a first name basis, which creates a very relaxed and informal atmosphere for everyone. In co-operation with the parents, the school works to instil feelings of self-confidence, self-awareness and self-respect so that the children are equipped to deal with the world, both in and out of school.
The NKETNS believes in educating children of all creeds and backgrounds together and in common with all educate together schools in the Republic of Ireland, is founded on four core principles:
- It is equality-based, i.e. open to all children of all or no religions, and the social, cultural and religious background of each child is to be equally respected.
- It is co-educational, i.e. the school is open to boys and girls on an equal basis ensuring that they are actively integrated, and sexual stereotyping is avoided, both in attitude and teaching materials.
- It is child centred, i.e. the school aims to be a place where a child’s quest for growth, self-development and knowledge is fully acknowledged, facilitated and encouraged.
- It is democratically run, i.e. it is run by management committees, which are democratically elected and run, and the involvement of all parents is sought and encouraged.
Definition of RSE (Relationships and Sexuality Education)
RSE provides children with structured opportunities to develop the knowledge, attitudes, values, beliefs and practical skills necessary to establish and sustain healthy personal relationships as children and subsequently as adults.
Relationships and sexuality education provides opportunities for the acquisition of knowledge and understanding, and the development of attitudes, beliefs and values about relationships, sexual identity and intimacy.
Relationship of RSE to SPHE (Social, Personal and Health Education)
Social, personal and health education 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.
A core curricular framework for SPHE commonly accepted throughout Europe is based on the following three dimensions.
- Myself and Others
- Myself and The Wider World
A spiral curriculum based on these three dimensions includes suitable modules on Relationships and Sexuality Education for each class/year group. Some of the issues raised can be appropriately examined by identifying cross-curricular links with other subject areas, such as Social, Environmental and Scientific Education, and the Learn Together Programme in general.
Relationships and sexuality education
Relationships and sexuality education (RSE) is an integral part of social, personal and health education and will be taught in this context. It provides structured opportunities for pupils to acquire knowledge and understanding of human sexuality and relationships. These opportunities will be brought about through processes which will enable them to form values and establish behaviours within a moral, spiritual and social framework. In particular, it addresses the meaning of human sexuality, relationships, growth and development, relevant personal and social skills and aspects of parenting.
Central to relationships and sexuality education is the fostering of self-esteem, through which the pupil becomes more responsible in making choices and decisions in all aspects of life, and particularly in those relating to sexuality and relationships.
What the school currently provides
Relationships and Sexuality Programme in all classes
Stay Safe – Senior Infants, 2nd, 4th and 6th classes and Outreach Classes
Learn Together Programme in all classes
Walk Tall programme in all classes
Approaches to Delivery
- Stories and Poems
- Group Work
- Project Work
- Circle Time
- Reflection Time
- Art Activities
- Role Play
- Classroom Visitors
The school closely adheres to the core principles of Educate Together, namely:
- Democratically run
As part of being child-centred, the school acknowledges uniqueness and differences and promotes individuality and creativity. In addition, a positive climate promotes high standards and expectations. With respect to being co-educational, all activities in the school are open to boys and girls on an equal basis. As part of the multi-denominational aspect of the school, the school promotes knowledge, understanding and celebration of different people and cultures. In a democratically run school the children are consulted, as far as is reasonable and practical on school issues. There is a Student Representative Group (SRG) in the school which meets at least monthly.
The aims of our RSE programme
The RSE programme aims to help children learn at home and in school about their own development, about their friendships and relationships with others.
- To enhance the personal development, self-esteem and well being of the child.
- To help the child to develop healthy friendships and relationships.
- To foster an understanding of, and a 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 awe and wonder 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.
When due account is taken of intrinsic abilities and varying circumstances the RSE curriculum should enable the child to:
- acquire and develop knowledge and understanding of self
- develop a sense of self-awareness, self-esteem and self-worth
- develop an appreciation of the dignity, uniqueness and well-being of others
- understand the nature, growth and development of relationships within families, in friendships and in wider contexts
- develop an awareness of differing family patterns
- come to value family life and appreciate the responsibilities of parenthood
- develop strategies to make decisions, solve problems and implement actions in various personal, social and health contexts
- become aware of the variety of ways in which individuals grow and change and understand that their developing sexuality is an important part of self-identity
- develop personal skills which will help to protect self and others from various forms of abuse
- acquire and improve skills of communication and social interaction
- acquire and use an appropriate vocabulary to discuss feelings, sexuality, growth and development
- develop a critical understanding of external influences on lifestyles and decision making.
RSE: What does it mean to our school?
Relationships and sexuality education is an on-going process throughout life. A child’s first experience of love and intimacy and of relationships takes place in the family. As the child grows and develops, it is right and proper that the home should exert the major influence in the domain of relationships and sexuality. The school has a role to play in supporting and complementing the parents as the primary and natural educators of their children. This support can help parents to enable their children to meet current challenges in growing and developing, to explore who they are and to learn to be comfortable within their relationships and with their sexuality. The school recognises that the family is the appropriate environment for the transmission of knowledge and values relating to RSE. The programme offered in the school is not a substitute for this.
RSE reinforces our four core principles. Our school’s unique character is one of openness and as such we are dependent on each other (i.e. parental involvement) to actively try to broaden the child’s experience of life, culture and tradition. The effectiveness of this RSE programme in our school is also dependent on a collaborative process involving pupils, teachers, parents and members of the Boards of Management.
RSE in conjunction with our school ethos helps children learn at home and in school about their own development. It helps to foster children’s relationships and friendship with other children now and in adult life.
RSE is one more step to developing the child’s self-esteem and confidence.
Guidelines for the management and organisation of RSE in our school
The staff uses the Department of Education and Skills programme and the Busy Bodies programme in 5th/6th class. Parents will be informed that books/resource materials are available for their use, prior to the implementation of the programme. Any parent may request to view the teaching materials being used in the school.
Usually, the class teacher will conduct RSE lessons with their own class. If not, then provision will be made for another teacher to take the class or for an outside speaker to visit the class.
In the event of parents wishing to withdraw their children from the more sensitive lessons in the RSE programme, provision will be made for this to happen after consultation between the parents and teacher. Such requests will be accommodated and recorded.
The teaching of RSE will be a combination of fixed timetables (with regard to sensitive issues, e.g. naming body parts, childbirth, sexual intercourse, etc.) Before these lessons are taught in class the Home-Schools Links letter to parents which can be found at the end of the corresponding chapters in the RSE book will be sent home, thus giving parents an opportunity to discuss these issues with their children before they arise in class.
- Correct terminology for body parts – Senior Infants
- Stay Safe programme – Senior Infants
- The Wonder of New Life (RSE book, theme 6- growth of the baby in the womb)– 4th Class
- Growing and Changing (RSE book, theme 8- which includes body changes and menstruation) – December 4th Class
- Busy Bodies Programme 6th Class and associated meeting for parents
A cross-curricular approach (e.g. should an RSE issue arise during any other lesson, whereby the teacher would be permitted the flexibility to seize “the teachable moment”) is also used.
The teachers would encourage the children to be sensitive to and understanding of the issues being discussed and revealed. Regarding menstruation, parents will be informed at the beginning of 3rd class that their class teacher has sanitary products in the event of their child requiring any during the day. Sanitary Bins are located in the toilets from 3rd to 6th class and in the Outreach class. In 4th class the children are taught about body changes and menstruation halfway through the school year and after these lessons have been taught, sanitary products will be available in a box in the classes’ toilets. The class teacher will check that they are stocked up.
As teachers we are obliged to report any disclosures of child abuse. Please refer to the school’s Child Protection Policy.
Due to the particular content of RSE lessons for 5th and 6th class, information meetings will be held for parents. An information meeting for parents is held in Senior Infants to explain the operation of the Stay Safe programme.
Usually, RSE classes will be co-educational with the exception of 5th or 6th classes, when certain sensitive issues are being covered. In this circumstance, boys and girls will initially be given separate classes but may come together for further discussion.
The teaching of the RSE programme will be spread out over the school year.
At each stage of the RSE programme children will be given the opportunity to ask questions. Teachers will allow for such questions both orally and may also give opportunities for anonymous written questions to be posed. However, if a teacher feels a question is inappropriate to a particular stage they can judge whether or not to answer the question, possibly referring it back to the parents. The teacher will answer questions in a neutral and factual manner.
RSE in the Outreach Classes
The Outreach Class teachers teach the RSE programme from Junior Infants to Sixth C lass. Regarding the sex education aspect of the RSE programme, the school liaises with the Children’s Disability Network Teams (CDNT) to address relevant issues around RSE depending on the individual needs of each child. The CDNT offer the programme “Growing Up” to parents of children with ASD who are aged eight years and over. This is run outside the school.
Provision for ongoing support, development and review
This policy will be reviewed at regular intervals. The next review will be in 2026.
Policy reviewed and approved by the Board of Management on 9th March 2022.