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RSE Policy



071 9841123        CO. LEITRIM



Four Masters is a co-educational primary school under the patronage of the Catholic Bishop of Kilmore.  A total of 175 pupils attend the school.  Classes range from Infants to Sixth.  The school is run by a Board of Management and the ethos is Catholic.  This Catholic ethos will inform the relationships and sexuality policy.

Ethos of the school:
The school ethos is one which values and respects the contribution of the entire school community.  It sets out to promote close working relations between teacher, management and parents all of whom work together for the benefit of the children.  The school provides a curriculum and a working atmosphere to help each child develop his/her potential to the full.  The school community believes in the holistic development of the child – academic, social, spiritual, psychological and emotional recognising that each child is unique with a history and background that is also unique and that it is the pupil’s right to have access to the entire range of education which the school provides.  The school recognises that the parents are the primary educators of their children and supports them in that role.  In the area of relationships and sexuality above all, the schools’ role is subsidiary to that of parents and it supports and complements their work.  In formulating an relationships and sexuality policy there is collaboration between teachers, parents and Management.  This is represented in the relationships and sexuality Policy Committee.

How the draft policy was developed:
A draft policy committee was set up by Board of Management in February ’03.  The two parent representatives on the Board of Management were chosen at a Board of Management meeting to represent the parents on the draft policy committee.

The Acting Principal and Acting Deputy Principal were chosen to represent the staff on the committee.  Reverend Father Thomas Keogan, chairperson of Board of Management also offered to be part of the committee.

This policy committee met on one occasion before attending a policy seminar where they were given guidelines on how to approach the task of writing a policy.  At this seminar they began work on forming their policy and the Acting Principal undertook to write the draft policy – incorporating all the adopted ideas of the other committee members.  When the draft policy was completed the committee met again and read the policy and any amendments needed were made.  Then a copy of the draft policy, together with a letter of explanation was sent to every family in the school.  The parents were invited to submit their comments on the policy and also to attend a meeting on relationships and sexuality in the school, on September 30th’03 at 8 pm.

Definition of relationships and sexuality education:
relationships and sexuality is part of Social, Personal and Health Education which is now a subject in the Primary Curriculum.

relationships and sexuality is a partnership between the home and the school.  The programme seeks to help children understand relationships and human sexuality.

At Senior Primary level relationships and sexuality is designed to help them learn.

What the school currently provides:
Our school policy and curriculum currently provide many opportunities both formal and informal in the areas of S.P.H.E.

Our school policy places great emphasis on the importance of the child within the school community.  Children are encouraged to participate openly in all discussions and to treat one another with care, courtesy and respect at all times.

• Our religion programme, The Children of God series and The Alice-O series provides many opportunities for discussion and participation by pupils on topics ranging from ourselves and our friends, people in other lands, through to our responsibilities under the Ten Commandments.

• Ant-bullying programme – the school has a clearly defined policy for dealing with this issue.

• The P.E. programme which includes Health Education encourages positive participation by all in a non-competitive environment.  It aims to foster self-esteem in our pupils.  They are encouraged to lead healthy lives involving exercise, proper diet and good personal hygiene.

• Social and Environmental Studies provides the pupils with opportunities to learn about the growth and development of plants, animals etc., and the work involved in caring for them.  Children learn how their bodies work and how we need to care for them.  Issues such as smoking, alcohol and drug abuse are dealt with in Senior classes.

• Children in First and Second class are using material from “Walk Tall” – D.E.S. substance misuse prevention programme.

Aims of relationships and sexuality education:
• To enhance and encourage the personal development, self-esteem and well being of the child.
• To help the child develop healthy friendships and relationships.
• To encourage an understanding of, and a healthy attitude to human sexuality and relationships in a moral, spiritual and social framework.
• To enable and encourage the child’s understanding and respect for human love and reproduction.
• To develop and promote in the child a sense of wonder regarding the process of birth and new life.
• To enable the older child to be comfortable with their own sexuality and that of their peers whilst growing and developing.
• To provide pupils with accurate information from a reliable source.
• About their spiritual, social, emotional and physical growth.
• About themselves as sexual human beings.
• About the various changes that occur as they progress towards adolescence and adulthood.

The content of the programme will enable each child to develop a deep appreciation and understanding of self and of others.

Relationships and sexuality education a part of social, personal and health education:
Relationships and Sexuality Education is an integral part of a wider programme of Social, Personal and Health Education (S.P.H.E.), a required part of the school curriculum for all pupils from early Primary right through Secondary School.  S.P.H.E. contributes to developing the work of home and school in promoting the health and well being of children.

Social Personal and Health Education is the process which enables pupils to:
• Develop an understanding of themselves.
• Choose and follow a healthy lifestyle.
• Play responsible roles as individuals and as members of society.

The Content of S.P.H.E. will include a wide range of topics such as:
• Relationships at home and in school.
• Building self-esteem.
• Skills of communication.
• Decision-making.
• Expressing feelings in an appropriate way.
• Nurturing sensitivity to the feelings and rights of others.

It also includes giving clear information on a range of topics, including:
• Healthy eating
• Human growth and development
• Safety and social responsibility
• Environmental issues
• Alcohol
• Drugs

S.P.H.E. assists pupils in the creation of healthy and positive attitudes about themselves, other people and their environment so they may achieve their full potential and contribute to the creation of a better society.

• Relationships and sexuality which deals with specific aspects of S.P.H.E. such as human growth and development, human sexuality, personal and social skills and relationships will be presented in the content of a supportive school environment whose aspirations are the holistic, all-round development of the child.

The management and organisation of relationships and sexuality in our school:
It is intended that the Department’s resource materials will be used.  However as this is a new venture for parents, children and staff, we will initially be covering the section of the programme which deals with puberty and sexual intercourse only with the children in Sixth Class.  An expert, who has helped devise the relationships and sexuality programme, will be invited by the Board of Management to deliver these lessons.  The class teacher will also be present.  The expert will also meet with the parents prior to the lessons.

While the entire relationships and sexuality programme, as outlined in department of Education and Science guidelines must be provided by the school before the children leave in sixth Class provision will be made for ---
(a) The rights of parents who hold conscientious or moral objections to the programme.  They will be informed when the lessons on the sensitive areas will be taught and they will be asked to remove their children from the class.
(b) For those teachers who hold conscientious or moral objections to delivering the core aspects of the programme, while recognising the rights of the pupils to have access to the relationships and sexuality programme.  The principal will make arrangements for another member of staff or other suitable professional to teach those lessons.

The success of the relationships and sexuality programme will require that opportunities be provided for ongoing and regular review of the programme by the Board of Management, representatives of the Parent Body and the Teaching Staff.  To this end a review of the schools relationships and sexuality programme will be undertaken one year from the implementation date and at regular intervals thereafter.

This policy was adopted at a Board of Management meeting on the 2nd of December 2003.

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