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Introduction: In accordance with the National Curriculum and Guidelines for SPHE , 1999, Relationships and Sexuality Education will be taught in all mainstream classes in our school. This policy will state how the ethos and vision of our school supports the RSE modules taught, the aims of the RSE programme itself, and the role of all concerned parties in our school community (i.e. parents/guardians, staff and BOM).

School Ethos/ Mission Statement:
Our school is a Roman Catholic school, under the patronage of the Bishop of Ossory. It is a Presentation school, and therefore, promotes values of self-respect, care for others and volunteerism. In this way, the culture of the school reflects the values espoused in the SPHE curriculum – care for others, promoting self-esteem, and a co-operative caring spirit. An awareness of, and sensitivity to the rights and feelings of others, is fostered in our school. Honesty, responsibility, courtesy, tolerance and consideration of others are values which are promoted in our school community, and are encouraged in all classes. Each child is cherished as an individual, and the spiritual, intellectual, physical, cultural, emotional and social needs, we aim to develop.

The Aims of SPHE:
• To promote the health of the child and provide the foundation of healthy living in all its aspects

• To enable the child to make informed decisions and choices about the social, personal, and health dimensions of life, both now and in the future

• To develop in the child, a sense of social responsibility, commitment to active and participative citizenship and an appreciation of the democratic way of life

• To enable the child to respect human and cultural diversity and to appreciate and understand the interdependent nature of the world.

What is RSE?
RSE aims to help the children learn both at home and at school, about their friendships, and relationships with others.
Children will be provided with opportunities to gain age-appropriate knowledge and understanding of relationships and human sexuality, growth and development. This set of values is based on a sense of responsibility and mutual respect.
The children should come to appreciate loving relationships and recognise the values that form a respect for parenthood and family life.
As is the case with SPHE, RSE seeks to foster self-esteem, it values decision making with a particular relevance to sexuality and relationships.
RSE is an integral part in the overall development of all pupils and all in the school community. The school recognises and accommodates for the shifting social framework of the present day. It sees that its duty to deliver an education in RSE is vitally important within a Christian, moral and social framework.

Current Provision for RSE
Our school is meeting the aims of RSE in these ways –
• SPHE – both through the formal strands and strand units of the curriculum, and informally. Also, in 6th class, formal self-development and sexual education classes are provided by an external facilitator. The class teacher is also present for this lesson in accordance with our Child Protection policy.
• Science – Living things: human growth and development
• History – people in history – examining attitudes and values over time, and how these may have changed
• P.E. – co-operative games
• Drama – role-play, to explore decision making, fostering self-esteem, empathy.
• English – oral language: discussing and debating relationships and decision making, reading and writing about these issues in an age and class-appropriate way.
• Alive- O programme (Religious Education) has lessons focusing on relationships, Christian values, morality, and decision making.
• Stay –Safe Programme – implemented in accordance with Child Protection Guidelines, in all classes
• Walk Tall programme

Aims of the RSE Programme
• To provide for the personal development, self-esteem, and well being of the pupils, and to empower the pupils, with language skills, to express their feelings and emotions
• To help the pupils grow to manage their emotions, thereby promoting responsible behaviour
• To enable the pupils to develop and enjoy friendships that promote communication and receptivity
• To show the importance of responsibility and mutual respect in relationships
• To promote a Christian understanding of, and a healthy attitude to human sexuality
• To allow pupils to gain an understanding of and show sensitivity towards difference, in terms of gender, religion, culture and ethnicity.
• To foster an environment in which the pupils feel comfortable about their own sexuality
• To acquire and improve skills of communication and social interaction
• To promote awareness of disability issues
• To develop a sense of wonder and awe at the processes of birth and new life.
• To develop some coping strategies to protect oneself and others from various forms of abuse.
The Role of Parents/ Guardians:
The school recognises that the parents are the prime educators of their children and that they have a responsibility to foster Christian attitudes in their children, regarding relationships and sexuality. The school complements the parent/guardian role by cultivating an atmosphere of care, trust and love.

The Role of Teachers:
• To support parents in their care of children • To consult with parents before dealing with sensitive issues • To make links between RSE and the curriculum • To be guided by the school ethos, to teach accordingly • To act with sensitivity, understanding and confidentiality • To review the RSE programme with other teaching staff, parents and Board of Management
The Role of the Board of Management;
• To enable collaboration between parents, teachers and the Board
• To support the role of the parents in RSE and to be mindful of the parents’ educational opportunities in this process
• To examine and review this policy.
Implementation of RSE in our school:
• The content of the programme will be delivered by the class teacher with the help of an external facilitator in sixth class for the Growing and Changing strand.
• The curriculum is spiral in nature and content will be delivered developmentally throughout the child’s time in our school in the SPHE curriculum.
• Whole school implementation: Year A = Stay Safe Programme; Year B = RSE Programme.
• RSE specific lessons will be taught through the strand Myself, under the Strand Units –
• Self- Identify
• Taking care of my body
• Growing and changing
• Safety and protection
• Myself and Others
• Myself and my family
• My friends and other people
• Relating to others
• The content of the RSE programme will be covered in eight to ten lessons per year
• On a child’s enrolment in our school, at an information meeting to which all parents are invited, parents will be provided with an overview of the RSE/SPHE programme.

Sensitive Issues
Sensitive issues which arise in RSE lessons
• lessons on naming the body parts (Senior Infants) and their functions (2nd Class);
• discuss the changes in development and sequence of development of the human baby from conception to birth (3rd and 4th classes)
• changes in their bodies as they grow and develop and lessons on conception and birth (5th and 6thClass).
• An outline of the content of lessons specific to each class level will be available to parents before they are taught, so that they can prepare the child, if they so wish.
• The home-school links letters from the DES RSE Resource Books may be sent home upon completion of lessons.

• A parent's right to withdraw a pupil from the process will be honoured on the understanding that the parent is taking full responsibility for this aspect of education. It is the responsibility of the parent to inform the school in writing of their decision to withdraw and their willingness to cover sensitive issues with their child outside of school hours. A child who has been withdrawn from class for the duration of a discrete RSE lesson will be accommodated in another classroom under the supervision of another teacher. If a child is withdrawn from the class for the teaching of sensitive issues we cannot guarantee that the other children will not inform him about what has been taught. The teacher may also need to make incidental reference to the issue at another time while that child is present.

• Each class teacher will teach the RSE programme including the sensitive issues unless they choose to opt out. A teacher's right to opt out from teaching the sensitive issues will be honoured. In this case, arrangements regarding the teaching of the programme will be made by the Principal.

• Teachers will teach only the topics laid down for the class and will only answer those questions which are relevant to the programme for that year.
• Questions arising from curriculum content will be addressed in a sensible, sensitive and age-appropriate manner. Should a pupil require information that is not in line with the curriculum content and not considered to be age-appropriate, the school will not give such information and will refer the question back to the parents.
• Teachers will not answer personal questions about themselves nor require the child to give information of a personal nature which he does not wish to share.

• Language will, at all times, reflect respect for those involved and for educational content. In our school, we will give children the correct and appropriate language to communicate confidently about themselves, their sexuality and their relationships.

• A trained facilitator will be invited to the school to cover sensitive issues with 6th Class annually. A teacher will remain in the classroom during this visit. Written permission will be sought from sixth class for the session with the trained facilitator.

• The school holds no responsibility for any information which the pupil may receive outside the direct teaching of the RSE lessons.
Provision for ongoing support and development:
Our school will offer ongoing training for teachers when necessary, to help them to implement the RSE policy fully. Information on courses or training for parents will be offered, and may be organised by the Parents’ Council/ BOM/ school

This policy will be circulated to parents, teachers and the BOM, and amended when consensus has been reached by all parties. The final agreed policy will be presented to the BOM , to be ratified and then circulated to all parties involved. It will then be implemented in the school, by teachers as soon as agreed and arranged.

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Presentation Convent N.S. Castlecomer, Co. Kilkenny.
Phone:056 444 1426 E-mail: info@prescomerns.scoilnet.ie
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