Relationships and Sexuality (RSE) Policy

Aims and the content of the agreed programme for the provision and the delivery of "Relationships & Sexuality Education (RSE)"

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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 Scoil Naomh Buithe, Tenure. We trust that by detailing these procedures, it will assist all parties in relation to the content of this important subject area. The Chairperson of the Board of Management and/or the Principal will be happy to clarify any matters arising from this policy, should it be required.

This policy statement is an approved approach to the teaching of RSE in Scoil Naomh Buithe. It was developed in 2020 by the RSE Policy Committee, which included the principal, two teachers, two representatives of the Board of Management and two parent representatives. It was developed to inform teachers and parents of the material covered in the RSE programme within the SPHE curriculum.

School Ethos

Scoil Naomh Buithe is an inclusive primary school under the patronage of the Catholic Archbishop of Armagh and is committed to the education and development of each pupil. We welcome pupils of all denominations and from every culture and social background. We strive to foster each child's physical, emotional, social, intellectual and spiritual development. We recognise that every child has a right to equal opportunity in education and we have special concern for children in difficult circumstances and with special needs. We promote self-worth, love of learning, personal responsibility and the belief that we can make our world a better place. In valuing the importance of partnership between staff, parents, management and community we strive to be open, welcoming and accepting to all. Our school plays an active part in developing a sense of community in Tenure and prides itself on being an environment that is warm, friendly, safe, supportive, inclusive and inviting. We strive to maintain this positive climate for the entire school community. In this space the child is encouraged and empowered to reach their full potential on a holistic level.

Definition of RSE

Relationships and Sexuality Education (RSE) is an integral part of Social, Personal and Health Education (SPHE) and must be taught in this context. It provides structured opportunities for pupils to acquire knowledge and understanding of human sexuality and relationships. RSE is the formal approach to educating children in:

  • Relationships with others – parents, siblings, friends and the community in general
  • Respect for themselves and others
  • Physical development – bodily functions and changes, and personal hygiene
  • Emotional development –maturing in society
  • Parenting, personal and social skills and relationships
  • Sexuality in context – part of a loving relationship

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 to 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.

Social, Personal and Health Education contributes to developing the work of the school in promoting the health and well-being of children and young people. The key characteristics of this programme are that SPHE is a lifelong process and is a shared responsibility between family, school, health professionals and the community. The main strands of the SPHE programme are:

  • Myself
  • Myself and others
  • Myself and the Wider World

It is clear that the RSE Programme is correctly defined as being an integral part of the SPHE programme outlined above. Sexually sensitive issues will be covered with the strand units:

  • Taking care of my body
  • Growing and Changing
  • Safety and protection

Current Provision

  • SPHE curriculum followed as per Department of Education recommendations.
  • Use of RSE Manuals, Busy Bodies DVD and Busy Bodies booklets
  • Stay Safe programme
  • Religious Education taught through the Grow in Love programme
  • Currently, the teachers cover all aspects of RSE with their classes on a bi- annual basis.
  • For Sixth Class pupils, ACCORD personnel visit the school annually for one full day or two mornings and the more sensitive RSE topics are covered as part of this time. The content of the ACCORD programme is shared with parents in advance of the visit to school and any interaction with pupils.

Policies which support SPHE/RSE

  • Code of Behaviour
  • Anti-Bullying policy
  • Child Safeguarding statement
  • Enrolment policy
  • Healthy Eating policy
  • School Tours policy
  • Internet Acceptable Usage Policy
  • Administration of Medicines policy

Aims of our RSE programme

When due account is taken of intrinsic abilities and varying circumstances, the RSE curriculum should enable the child to:

  • Understand the nature, growth and development of relationships within families, in friendships and in wider contexts
  • Develop healthy friendships and relationships
  • Understand and have a healthy attitude to human sexuality and relationships within a moral, spiritual and social framework
  • Acquire and use an appropriate vocabulary to discuss feelings, sexuality, growth and development
  • Understand the physical changes taking place with the onset of puberty
  • Acquire a knowledge of and respect for human love, sexual intercourse and reproduction
  • Develop a sense of wonder and awe at the process of birth and new life
  • Feel comfortable with their sexuality and that of others
  • Develop an awareness of differing family patterns
  • Develop strategies to make decisions, solve problems and implement actions in various personal, social and health contexts
  • Develop some coping strategies to protect themselves and others from various forms of abuse.

Guidelines for the Management/Organisation of RSE in our School

[1] Organisational Matters

  • Guidelines as laid down by the Department of Education 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 class teacher will remain with the class during the lessons.


  • Parents are to be informed in advance of the programme content. They will specifically be informed in advance of the formal lessons on the sensitive areas of the programme (eg. Puberty, sexual intercourse) and the vocabulary to be used within these lessons. (See RSE Content and Language grid attached.)
  • Parents will be offered a chance to view online any DVDs being used in the teaching of RSE eg. Busy Bodies.
  • Written parental consent will be sought for these lessons.
  • It is a parents/guardians right to withdraw a pupil from these lessons. This request for withdrawal must be made in writing.
  • 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.

[2] Curriculum Matters

  • The SPHE Curriculum, as published by the Department of Education (DE) and the National Council for Curriculum and Assessment (NCCA), will be followed and will be taught from Junior Infants to 6th class. (See ).
  • All resources used will be in keeping with the ethos of the school and the RSE policy. Each class teacher will teach the content for their class level with the exception that ACCORD personnel will visit Sixth Class annually to cover the more sexually sensitive topics (See RSE Content and Language grid attached) and the principal will make them fully aware of the school’s RSE policy. Beginning in 2021/2022 the ACCORD day will be followed by the class teacher revising the content of the curriculum, taking questions/comments from the pupils, facilitating further discussion as necessary and helping the pupils to find age-appropriate answers to the questions raised.
  • 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; eg. 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 etc. 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 outside of the school or 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 SECOND 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 RSE Content and Language grid attached)
  • Naming the parts of the male/female body using appropriate anatomical terms and identify some of their functions (1st/ 2nd ) *(See RSE Content and Language grid attached)

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) *(See RSE Content and Language grid attached)
  • Changes that occur in boys and girls with the onset of puberty (Fourth class)
  • Reproductive system of male/female adults (Fifth/Sixth Class) *(See RSE Content and Language grid attached)
  • Understanding sexual intercourse, conception and birth within the context of a loving, committed relationship. (Sixth Class) *(See RSE Content and Language grid attached).
  • Sensitive issues (in italics above) may be dealt with in the following class groupings;


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 ask/answer more specific questions/concerns.

Boys and girls mixed together in FIFTH CLASS for Lesson 6:My Body Grows and Changes. As RSE is taught every second year some pupils may not have had this lesson while they were in Fourth Class and the Fifth Class lesson is instead taught now as per Fourth Class above.


Lesson 7:The Wonder of New Life will NOT be taught in FIFTH CLASS. The content of this lesson will be covered as part of the Sixth Class programme, first by ACCORD and then very shortly again by the Sixth Class teacher.

Boys and girls mixed together in SIXTH CLASS for main lessons initially. The annual ACCORD day will be quickly followed up with the Sixth Class teacher revisiting the full RSE curriculum content. Following that, boys and girls in Sixth Class will be given the opportunity to further discuss the content as two separate groups. This will allow for additional questions and concerns to be raised and addressed.

[3] Dealing with Questions

It is natural that children should wish to ask questions in the area or RSE. However, this area is treated somewhat differently from other subjects due to its sensitive nature. All questions answered will reflect the parameters of the curriculum.

  • 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 RSE Content and Language grid attached).
  • 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

[4] Students with Additional/Special Educational Needs (AEN/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, beginning in 2021/22 it will be decided together by parents, mainstream class teachers and special education teachers during the child’s School Support Plus plan meeting. The special education teachers will aid the mainstream class teacher with the facilitation of appropriate and agreed RSE provision for the child with AEN/SEN..
  • There will be ongoing assessment of the programme through observation by teachers and feedback from parents, teachers and pupils.

Provision of Ongoing Support

  • Parents are welcome to view the curriculum and resource materials if they so wish. Please see .
  • 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 RSE programme acts as a support only to parents, and parents retain the right to withdraw their children from classes. Should a parent decide to withdraw their child from RSE lessons in school, they will be asked to put this in writing with reasons for doing so. They will also be asked to include a sentence stipulating that they will take full responsibility to teach RSE to their child instead.
  • Funding will be sought for the provision of suitable materials when deemed necessary.
  • Opportunities provided by our Education centre will be brought to the attention of staff members. Career development will be sought for staff when required, or as requested.

Links to other Policy Areas

  • Child Safeguarding statement
  • SPHE Policy

Child Protection: The school follows the Department of Education’s child protection guidelines and has a Child Safeguarding Statement and Risk Assessment with the Principal as Designated Liaison Person (DLP). In cases of disclosure, the DLP will follow the procedures as set out in Children First.

Ratification, communication, monitoring and review:

This policy was ratified and adopted by the Board of Management on Tuesday 29th March 2022. It had previously been discussed extensively at a Board meeting held on 31st May 2022 but was revisited to coincide with the teaching of RSE lessons in all classes in early 2022. The latest draft of this policy was communicated to all staff and all parents by email ahead of the March board meeting and suggestions/feedback had been sought. To date none had been received. The policy will be reviewed every two years, and sooner should a need arise at any time. Parents and staff will always be informed of any amendments made by the RSE Policy Committee and/or the Board.

Signed: _________________________ Date: _____________ Patrick Logue
(Chairperson of Board of Management)

Signed: _________________________ Date: ____________
Anne Phillips (Principal)

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