A Policy Statement for Relationships and Sexuality Education (RSE)
Gusserane National School
New Ross, Co. Wexford
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:
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:
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:
As stated previously, the content of all lessons will be governed by the schools’ Catholic ethos as taught in the Alive-O Religion programme.
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:
Policies which support SPHE/RSE
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:
Guidelines for the Management and Organisation of RSE in our School
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.
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
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
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