RSE Policy

RSE Policy Straffan National School



Straffan National School is a co-ed mainstream primary school catering for pupils from infants to sixth class.  The school is a catholic primary school under the patronage of the Diocese of Dublin.  The ethos of our school is founded on Christian principles where tolerance and respect for others is paramount.  It is our intention that everyone feels valued and our pupils are encouraged to develop to their full potential in a caring and supportive environment.  Relationships and Sexuality Education (R.S.E.) encompasses the acquisition of knowledge and understanding and the development of attitudes, beliefs and values about relationships, sexual identity and intimacy.  In Straffan N.S. we seek to promote the overall development of the child which involves the integration of Relationships and Sexuality into personal understanding, growth and development within the context of our Catholic ethos.


Development of this Policy

Consultations took place with staff, parents and Board of Management in the writing of this policy.



Straffan N.S. is committed to the education of children regardless of race, religion, gender or status.  Relationships and Sexuality are integral parts of the human personality and impact biologically, psychologically, culturally, socially and spiritually.  The Christian ethos of the school is the cornerstone of our Relationships and Sexuality Policy.  RSE is a lifelong process that  involves the acquisition of knowledge, understanding and skills, and the development of attitudes, beliefs, morals and values.  While we believe that the primary responsibility for addressing these issues rests with parents, we acknowledge the vital part the school can play in supporting and complementing this.


Definition of R.S.E.

Relationships and Sexuality Education seeks to provide children with opportunities to acquire knowledge and understanding of relationships and human sexuality, through processes which will enable them to form values and establish behaviours within a moral, spiritual and social framework.  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.





Relationship of R.S.E to S.P.H,E.

In Straffan N.S. RSE will be taught in the context of Social, Personal and Health Education.  SPHE is a subject in the primary school curriculum.  SPHE 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.  SPHE is taught from Junior infants to Sixth class and is formally timetabled.


RSE will be facilitated in the following ways within our school :

  • In the context of a positive school climate and atmosphere
  • As part of timetabled S.P.H.E.
  • On an integrated, cross-curricular basis


The RSE curriculum is a spiral curriculum.  This involves revisiting key topics in a developmental manner at regular intervals.  As it is a progressive programme it is taught annually over the 8-year primary cycle.


Aims of our RSE Programme

  • To enhance the personal development, self esteem and well-being of each child
  • To help children 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.


A Health Visitor will facilitate in delivering the R.S.E. programme to 4th, 5th and 6th.  This will be tailored according to the needs of each class:


For 4th class

Fourth class will be taught the Growing and Changing section of the 4th Class R.S.E. programme.

The aim is:

  • To provide the children with the opportunities to understand the changes that take place in both males & females during growth to adulthood.

For 5th & 6th Class:

The programme Busy Bodies will be used in conjunction with the  5th & 6th Class R.S.E. programme.

  • To enable the child to acquire an understanding of, and respect human love, sexual intercourse and reproduction
  • To develop and promote in the child a sense of wonder and awe 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.


Management and Organisation of the R.S.E. Programme in our school


Parental Involvement  :

Relationships and Sexuality Education is an ongoing process throughout life.  Parents and the family are acknowledged as the primary educators of their children.  We work in a supportive role with the parents of our school, by complimenting their role with a school based programme in R.S.E.   Parents with particular concerns should then discuss these with the principal or class teacher.


Withdrawal from RSE:

Since RSE is an obligatory requirement of the Department of Education and Science, it should be inclusive.  Straffan N.S. actively promotes the implementation of RSE and strongly discourages withdrawal.  The school will, however, take account of parental concerns and a parent’s right to withdraw a pupil from themes pertaining to sensitive issues will be honoured on the understanding that the parent(s) is taking full responsibility for this aspect of education themselves.  Parents are obliged to inform the school in writing of their decision to withdraw the child from the sensitive issues classes. Any parent who wishes to withdraw their child should make arrangements for the supervision of the child while the RSE class is in progress.  The school can take no responsibility for any information which the pupil may receive outside the direct teaching of the RSE lessons.


Content :

All the content objectives of the RSE Programme will be covered by the time the children leave sixth class.  It is school policy that the content objectives are covered with each class level as outlined in the SPHE curriculum statement, within the context of the school’s Catholic ethos and without personal slants from the class teacher.  One half hour period per week is timetabled in each class for SPHE, and RSE will be included in the programme taught during this time.  The approach to the teaching of RSE will be kept as normal as possible and will usually be delivered within the child’s class by the teacher.  Teachers will be encouraged and supported to teach the sensitive issues to their own class.  The RSE policy committee felt strongly that treating RSE differently than the rest of the SPHE programme intimates to the children that it is “not normal” and may build barriers in the case of children who had a problem they wished to discuss.





Topics Covered In the RSE Programme.

Junior  and Senior Infants.


Look What I Can Do.

These are my Friends.

I Can Be Safe.

Other People Have Feelings Too.

Caring for New Life.  The word womb will be introduced.

My Body.  The words vagina and penis will be introduced.

I Grow and Change.

Making Decisions.


First and Second Class.


Things I Like To Do.

My Friends

My Family.

Keeping Safe.

Showing/coping with our feelings.

The Wonder of New Life.

My Body Works.

Growing Means Changing.

Decisions and their Consequences.


Third and Fourth.


Myself and Others.

Bullying Behaviour.

My Family.

Reasons for Rules.

Feelings and Emotions.

The Wonder of New Life.

Keeping Healthy.

As I Grow I Change.

Problem Solving.

Growing and Changing .(4th class only.  This includes menstruation, development of body hair, voice changes and skin changes. A Health Visitor will facilitate this topic)


Fifth and Sixth Class.


My Family.

Feelings and Emotions.

Growing and Changing:

Physical Changes in girls: breasts develop, menstruation begins, underarm and pubic hair grows, hips broaden, perspiration may increase, oily skin and pimples may develop.  The following vocabulary will be used: ovaries, fallopian tubes, womb, uterus, cervix and menstruation.

Physical changes in boys: growth spurt occurs, testicles, scrotum and penis enlarge, pubic, facial and other body hair begins to grow, voice deepens, nocturnal emissions occur, perspiration may increase.  Oily skin and pimples may develop.  The following vocabulary will be used: penis, testicles, scrotum, sperm production, erection, wet dreams (nocturnal emissions).


Relationships and New Life.

A Baby is a Miracle.

Choices and Decision Making.


In 5th and 6th classes Busy Bodies DVD will be utilised to help the children gain an understanding of body changes and the creation of new life.  The school also involves a Health Visitor while teaching RSE in 5th and 6th class.




Teachers’ Opt Out Right :

Notwithstanding the above (See section on Content), the teachers’ right to opt out will be honoured which will not affect the teaching of the subject.  In such circumstances the Principal will make arrangements to have this section of the programme taught.  Where possible arrangements will be made for team teaching for the entire SPHE curriculum for that class so that the RSE themes will be taught within the context of SPHE with a teacher with whom they are familiar.


Mixed Groups :

The delivery of the RSE programme will be co-educational within the context of the class group.  Where multi class groups are concerned exceptions will be made to ensure that pupils are taught the appropriate class level objectives.  Therefore the RSE lessons will be taught in conjunction with the corresponding class within the school and both class groups will come together for these lessons.


Children  With Special Needs

Children with special needs will be supported accordingly and may have the programme adapted if necessary.  Parental involvement may be required to facilitate this.


Terminology :

In teaching issues related to RSE, teachers will use the correct biological terms for parts of the body.


Questions :

Questions arising from curriculum content will be addressed by the teacher or by the visitor in a sensible, sensitive and age-appropriate manner.  The class teacher cannot answer questions which do not relate to the particular curriculum objectives for a class.  Pupils will be informed that that question/issue is not on the programme and they will be referred back to the parent(s).  Teachers may exercise discretion to contact parents themselves if they feel that a question is very inappropriate.


Confidentiality and Child Protection :

Where there is disclosure by a child of abuse, the school will follow the Department of Education and Skills child protection guidelines as set out in ‘Children First’.


Family Status :

We acknowledge the different family units that are represented in school and will endeavour to treat all situations sensitively.


Sources and Resources :

The RSE and the Stay Safe Programme, Busy Bodies and other resources that are deemed suitable by the Principal/SPHE co-ordinator will primarily be used for the delivery of the RSE themes.



Ongoing support, development and review

The Board of Management of Straffan N.S. supports and fosters the development of a R.S.E. school policy.  The programme of work will be reviewed at regular intervals by teachers.  Straffan N.S. will ensure access to in-career development opportunities for teachers and the policy committee in R.S.E.  The policy and programme will be reviewed by the policy committee after the first year and every four years thereafter.  Any amendments necessary as a result of reviews will be undertaken.



Ratified by the Board of Management on__________________



Chairperson of the Board of Management

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Scoil Bhride, Straffan, Co. Kildare, W23 CD77
(01) 627 2255