Relationship & Sexuality Education Policy

School Details:  Ballyleague N.S. is a Catholic, co-educational primary school, concerned with the emotional, social and intellectual development of the child, in partnership with parents, parish and community. There are four multi-grade classes in each.

Introductory Statement: This policy details how RSE is taught in Ballyleague N.S., including the sensitive aspects of the programme.  This policy has been developed to inform teachers and parents as to what material is covered in the RSE programme within SPHE both formally and informally. This policy is a revision of earlier versions, the most recent being 2013.

School Philosophy: We recognise that SPHE is intrinsic to the teaching and learning that occurs formally and informally in our school. Through RSE, which is a component of our overall SPHE policy, we wish to assist children to develop feelings of self-confidence and of positivity towards others, help children to become aware of their rights as individuals while also accepting their responsibility for their actions as members of the school and the wider community. Parental involvement will be encouraged as much as possible.

Definition of RSE: RSE is an important part of the education of young people. It aims to provide a safe context within which young people can learn about themselves and the wider world, learn about relationships and sexuality in ways which help them to think and act in a moral, caring responsible way. (Going Forward Together, Parent’s Information Booklet ,pg 4)

Relationship of RSE to SPHE: Social Personal 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.


  • Is a life-long process, is  continual throughout primary school and is not confined to once off inputs or lessons

  • is a shared responsibility between family, school, health professionals and the community is a generic approach. It is not so much about the specific content of RSE but rather the relationship with a child’s skills, attitudes, values and understanding relevant to a range of social, personal and health issues.

  • Is based on the needs of the child

  • Is spiral in nature, builds on previous learning, throughout the child’s time in school.

  • Allows children to engage in activity based learning.

Current Provision:  RSE is provided for in our school via the following:

  • SPHE lessons provided through a combination of discrete curricular time-tabling and integration

  • Use of RSE Manuals

  • HSE Busy Body Resources

  • Stay Safe Programme

  • Walk Tall Programme

  • Webwise Resources

  • All Together Now – (*Homophobic and Transphobic Anti-Bullying Lessons)

  • RESPECT Guidelines ( suggested approaches to teaching about different families)

  • adapted resources for SEN from

  • Religious education.

Aims of our RSE Programme:

  • To enhance the personal development, self-esteem, wellbeing of the child.

  • To help the child to develop healthy friendships and relationships.

  • To foster an understanding of and a healthy attitude to, human sexuality and relationhsips in a moral, spiritual and social framework.

  • To enable the child to acquire an understanding of and respect for human love, sexual intercourse and re-production .

  • 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.

Broad Objectives: Given the abilities, varying circumstances  of the children concerned, through RSE the children in our school will be enabled to develop:

  • an understanding of self

  • an understanding of the dignity and well-being of others

  • a sense of positive self-esteem , self-worth.

  • an understanding of relationships within families, friendships, wider contexts.

  • an awareness of differing family patterns

  • strategies for decision making, problem solving, in various personal, social, and health contexts

  • an awareness of how individuals grow and change, understand their developing sexuality is an important aspect of self-identity.

  • skills to develop and sustain healthy personal friendships

  • vocabulary to discuss feelings, sexuality, growth and development

  • a critical understanding of external influences on lifestyles, decision making.

Policies which support SPHE/RSE:

  • Child Protection Policy

  • Substance Use Policy

  • Code of Behaviour

  • Anti-Bullying Policy

  • Enrolment Policy

  • Acceptable Use Policy

  • Healthy eating Policy

Guidelines for Management and Organisation of RSE in our School: The Curriculum content as published by NCCA will be taught from infants to 6th class. All resources used will be in keeping with the ethos of the school, the whole school plan for SPHE , and the RSE policy.

RSE in our school will be taught through a combination of discrete time-tabling and integration.

Discrete time: to develop and practise particular skills, deal with sensitive issues or explore issues that are not addressed in other areas of the curriculum.  Discrete time may be timetabled ½ hour per week, one hour per fortnight or blocks of 1 – 2 hours where feasible or appropriate. (See Primary School Curriculum, Introduction pp. 67 – 70)

Integration: At each class level, teachers should seek to integrate SPHE with other curricular areas. Many aspects of SPHE can be dealt with in the context of relevant subject areas.

(See Teacher Guidelines: SPHE  pp. 31 – 33, pp. 38-39)


Teaching of Sensitive Issues Include these Strands: Growing and Changing, Taking Care of My Body.

  • “ Growing and Changing” and “Taking Care of My Body” are covered in Year One of a 2 Year SPHE Plan

  • The Sensitive lessons are covered as part of these broad topics outlined below.

  • Arrangements will be made for the organisation of teaching sensitive issues from 4th – 6th classes, taking into account, multi-grade classes, maturity level of the children, school context.

  • Parents will be informed of the arrangements of the teaching of sensitive issues in advance.

  • Special consideration will be given, to the needs of SEN children, and how best to ensure their needs are met in this context. The pupil’s emotional, social development will be taken in to account. Instruction will be based on individual needs where possible. Parents will be consulted around sensitive issues.

  • It is normally the class teacher, who leads instruction in the sensitive issues. However, from time to time external speakers may be brought in to support the instruction of the sensitive issues. Parents will be notified in advance. The class teacher will remain with the pupils, for the duration of the instruction.


Parental Involvement: Parents are acknowledged as the primary educators of their children. The teaching staff will work with parents in a supportive role.

  • Parents will be informed that the school fully implements the RSE strands of the SPHE programme including the sensitive issues.

  • The RSE policy will be available on the school web-site.

  • Parents will be consulted around RSE sensitive issues in advance, in a letter relevant to what will be taught at their child’s class level.

  • Parents are invited to view the curriculum, and if they have any concerns, to make an appointment with the teacher to discuss.

  • Following discussion with the class teacher /Principal, if a parent wishes to withdraw their child from RSE sensitive lessons, parents should state their reasons for doing so in writing, and this will be retained on file.

  • If a child has been withdrawn from sensitive lessons, the school takes no responsibility for what the child may hear, subsequent to the lessons, e.g. what he/she may hear on the school yard …

  • RSE Going Forward Together – Parents Information Booklet – will be available to view

  • Copies of HSE DVD “Busy Bodies” will be distributed in advance to parents in senior classes.


Organisation and Curriculum Planning: RSE forms part of the national curriculum for SPHE by NCCA and will be taught from infants to 6th class. RSE will be covered under the following strands and strand units of the SPHE curriculum.



Growing and Changing

Taking Care of my Body


The RSE programme is divided into two main parts.

  1. The general programme which contains content covered through SPHE strands and strand units and compliments the aims and objectives of RSE.


* Friendship      * Family         * Growing Up      * Self-Identity        * Self-Esteem


  1. The second section will deal with any sensitive /specific content through RSE strands and strand units. The sensitive aspects are in bold.

Active Learning Methodologies are an integral part of the teaching of SPHE and RSE

  • Discussion

  • Role Play

  • Interviewing friends  other school pupils, family members

  • Surveys of attitudes

  • Analysing, evaluating newspapers, magazines, agony columns, tv schedules

  • Hosting visitors

  • Projects

  • Modelling

  • Designing advertisements

  • Writing captions

  • Ranking statements

  • Describing photographs

  • Viewing and discussing videos


The RSE Curriculum will be taught through:

  • stories and poems

  • classroom discussion

  • group work

  • games

  • art activities

  • reflection

  • circle time

  • visits of guest speakers (in the presence of the class teacher – Circular 22/2010)


Differentiation: Strategies used to differentiate the programme and content to suit the needs of the class may include the following:

  • setting attainable objectives for the students

  • making the learning task compatible with prior learning

  • providing opportunities to interacting and working with  other students

  • spending more time on tasks, use of concrete and everyday materials, visual prompts, language charts… etc

  • breaking learning up into small tasks, pitching language used at the student’s level of understanding

  • Consultation with parents in advance, in anticipation of needs.


Language: SPHE/ RSE curriculum provide a context in which children are given opportunities to develop language skills and vocabulary related to SPHE and RSE. The use of language is applied in RSE lessons in:

  • discussion through formal RSE lessons

  • vocabulary related to sexuality, growing up, physical changes, parts of the body, feelings.

  • avoiding use of slang

  • discussion of anatomical terms and language consistent with RSE Course Materials.


Principles used when fostering discussion and questioning are:  

  • No personal questions of the teacher

  • The Question Box may be availed of by the children in a respectful manner

  • The teacher will be mindful of their reaction to questions

  • The teacher may not answer the questions straight away

  • Some  children may be guided by the teacher to direct their  questions to their parents/guardians/family as a more suitable arena for discussion and support.

  • Teachers may exercise discretion themselves to contact parents if they feel a question is inappropriate or needs to be communicated at home for other reasons.

  • Should issue arise which may be seen to contravene Child Protection, the teacher will inform the  Designated Liaison Person in the school.


Assessment:  The teachers will use the following assessment strategies in the implementation of RSE.

  • Observation and questioning to assess children’s engagement and interest.

  • Use of teacher –designed tasks such as worksheets, quizzes, games.

  • Use of reflection or learning log.

  • Communication with parents, re child’s abilities, strengths, difficulties.

  • Self-Assessment, children helped to set their own realistic goals, become aware of personal strengths and difficulties.

  • Assessment of learning throughout the school via school climate and atmosphere, in discrete time, and throughout other subjects to discover what child knows, understands, can do.


The Board of Management ratified this policy document on 28th November 2018.

This Policy will be reviewed from time to time and maybe amended whenever the need arises or when circumstances require it.

Topics Covered up to 2nd Class

  • Keeping Safe

  • Bodily Changes from birth - 9 years

  • Making age -appropriate choices

  • Appreciating variety of family types, variety of family life existing in our school/Community

  • Recognising, expressing feelings

  • Self-care, hygiene, diet, exercise, sleep.

  • Expressing opinions, listening to others.

  • Naming the parts of male/female body using proper anatomical terms (Junior/Senior Infants)

  • Naming the parts of the male/female body using appropriate anatomical terms and identify some of their functions (1st /2nd)

Topics Covered from 3rd - 6th Class

  • Bodily Changes

  • Healthy eating, personal hygiene and    exercise

  • Keeping Safe

  • Expressing Feelings

  • Appreciating the variety of family types within or school and community and how these family relationships shape us.

  • Making healthy and responsible decisions

  • Forming friendships

  • Discuss the stages and sequence of development of the human baby in the womb (3rd ,4th Class)

  • Changes that occur in boys and girls with the onset of puberty (5th and 6th class)

  • Reproductive system of male/female adults (5th and 6th class)

  • Understanding sexual intercourse, conception and birth within the context of a committed loving relationship. (5th, 6th class)

The sensitive issues are taught as part of a 2 year SPHE plan as follows:


September / October

November / December

January / February

March / April

May / June

Year 1

Self Identify (Myself)

My Friends and Other People (Myself and Others)

Safety and Protection (Myself)

Making Decisions (Myself)

Media Education (Myself and the Wider World)

Year 2

Myself and My Family (Myself and Others)

Relating to Others (Myself and Others)

Growing and Changing (Myself)

Taking Care of My Body (Myself)

Developing Citizenship (Myself and the Wider World)

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Ballyleague NS


Co. Roscommon N39 PX49