RSE Policy

A Policy Statement for Relationships and Sexuality Education (RSE)

Gusserane National School

New Ross, Co. Wexford                              Phone: 051 562107                  E-mail:


School Philosophy

Gusserane NS is a Catholic school under the patronage of the Bishop of Ferns. It is managed by a Board of Management, elected according to the procedures agreed by the Partners in Education. The school has a Catholic ethos and this ethos is a guiding principle in the formulation and implementation of this RSE Policy. This ethos recognises the value and dignity of each pupil and all those working in the school community, and aims at promoting the full and harmonious development of all aspects of the person, including:


a)  relationship with God

b)  relationship with family

c)  relationship with teachers

d)  relationship with self

e)  relationship with others

f)  relationship with the environment.


This ethos also acknowledges the cultural and religious values of all the pupils attending the school.  The school recognises that the parents are the primary educators of their children and we support them in that role.


In the area of RSE, above all, the schools’ role is subsidiary to that of the parents. We support and compliment their work.


Definition of RSE

RSE is an integral part of Social, Personal and Health Education and must be taught in this context.  It provides structured opportunities for pupils to acquire knowledge and understanding of human sexuality and relationships through processes, which will enable them to form values and establish behaviours within a moral, spiritual and social framework.  (p. 5 NCCA curriculum and guidelines for RSE). 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.

Relationship of RSE to SPHE and Religion

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. This happens in the context of their emotional, moral, social and spiritual growth, as well as their intellectual, physical, political, religious and creative development. (p.5 Going Forward Together Parents Information Booklet).


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 Relationships and Sexuality Programme is correctly defined as being an integral part of the programme outlined above.  Sexually sensitive issues will be covered within the strand units:

  • Taking care of my body
  • Growing and changing
  • Safety and protection.


As stated previously, the content of all lessons will be governed by the schools’ Catholic ethos as taught in the Alive-O Religion programme.


Current Provision

Traditionally we have been a child-centred school. The educational and emotional needs of the children in our care are central to our planning and policy making processes. We have always and will always continue to put the welfare of the children first.


Included in the school curriculum in Gusserane NS is:

  • Religious Education (Alive-O)
  • SPHE
  • Stay Safe Programme
  • SALT Conflict Resolution Programme.


Policies which support SPHE/RSE

  • Code of behaviour and discipline policy             
  • Headlice Policy
  • Anti-Bullying Policy       
  • Child protection policy                                   
  • Enrolment Policy
  • Mobile phone policy                                         
  • Healthy Eating Policy
  • School Tour Policy                                          
  • School Visitors Policy 
  • Internet Safety Policy                                  
  • Administration of Medicines Policy.


In keeping with the sentiment and spirit of these policies, we informally support many of the aims on which RSE is modelled. We encourage good behaviour, open communication, understanding and tolerance of differences, and respect for self and others. We recognise that both pupils and staff have rights and responsibilities in our school. A sense of responsibility is fostered, and attention is paid to the wellbeing of all of the members of the school community.


Aims of our RSE programme

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

  • Develop a positive 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, change and understand that their developing sexuality is an important aspect of self-identity
  • Develop personal skills, which will help to establish and sustain healthy personal relationships
  • Develop some coping strategies to protect themselves 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.


Guidelines for the Management and Organisation of RSE in our School


Curriculum Matters

The curriculum as published by the NCCA will be followed. All content objectives will be covered by the time each pupil leaves 6th class – (see Appendix A for further details). The curriculum will be taught from Infants to 6th class.  It will be ideally be taught by the teaching staff. Occasionally it may be deemed necessary for an outside speaker to address the “sexually sensitive issues” i.e. puberty, reproductive system, conception, birth and sexual intercourse on the 6th Class curriculum.  All resources used will be in keeping with the ethos of the school and this policy.


  • Sensitive issues classes are generally taught from infants to 4th during the month of February. Topic 1 on the fifth-class programme (menstruation) is generally delivered in September, with Topic 2 (puberty) in February. The sixth-class programme is delivered during the child’s final term in school
  • In a multi class situation, the younger class will be withdrawn when topics being taught are not age-appropriate
  • When an outside speaker is used, the SPHE coordinator/principal will make them fully aware of school policy. Parents/guardians will be notified of the name of this speaker in advance of the lesson. The class teacher will remain with the class during the lesson.


Organisational Matters

  • Prior to the teaching of lessons involving “sensitive issues”, parents will be informed by letter with an accompanying outline of the lesson (including vocabulary to be used)
  • Written parental consent will be sought for lesson 3 (conception) in 6th class
  • It is a parents/guardian right to withdraw a pupil from these lessons. This request for withdrawal must be made in writing.
  • If parents/guardians request the withdrawal of a child from RSE lessons, provision will be made for them to leave the classroom at that time. Supervision will be provided. With regard to matters of a confidential nature, the school cannot take any responsibility for what is discussed in the yard or classroom. Should a child who is withdrawn from the sexually sensitive classes receive inappropriate information from others outside of these classes, it will be the responsibility of the parent/guardian to address the issues.
  • Any teacher has the right to opt-out from teaching the sexually sensitive issues in RSE.  It is responsibility of Board of Management to ensure that the curriculum will be delivered to the children, by another teacher, or an outside speaker.
  • Parents are welcome to view the curriculum and may speak to the class teacher if they have any concerns.


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.  Certain topics will not be discussed i.e. abortion, masturbation, homosexuality, contraception.  Questions to the teacher may be written or oral within the group setting and answered within the boundaries of the curriculum and school policy. If any questions asked by the children are judged to be inappropriate, the teacher will refer the child to their parents, or state that this information may be available at a later stage of the curriculum. The school cannot guarantee confidentiality if a child asks a question of a personal nature or discloses personal information.


At all times the child’s and teacher’s right to privacy will be maintained


Parental Involvement

Parents/Guardians are the primary educators of their children and as such the school supports them in this role. As stated, parents/guardians will be given the option of withdrawing their child from a particular lesson if they so wish. The Parents’ Council may on occasion arrange for speakers/meetings to help them in the task of communicating with their children on aspects of their development. Parents/Guardians may access copies of the policy from the school office, or school website.



Lesson plans from the DES have been assessed and amended where necessary in line with this school policy. These lessons plans are available in the SPHE press for each class grouping. The Alive O programme, the Stay safe programme, and a selection of other appropriate resources will also be used. All resources are available for parents/guardians to view if they so request prior to the delivery of the lesson.


Provision for Ongoing Support

  • Parents are welcome to view curriculum if they so wish.
  • 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.





The staff, under the guidance of the Principal and SPHE Coordinator will review this policy every two years. This policy will also be reviewed should the need arise.



Ratification and Communication

The Board of Management of Gusserane NS ratified this amended plan on Monday the 20th of May 2019.






_____________________                    ________________________

Mr. Tony Heuston                                 Mr. Martin Murphy

PRINCIPAL                                         CHAIRPERSON BOM


Dated:  _______________



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