Download Relationships and Sexuality (RSE) Policy.  (pdf, 53kb)

St. Fiachra’s SNS is a Catholic co-educational primary school under the patronage of the Catholic Archbishop of Dublin. It is located in the parish of Beaumont, Dublin 5. There are approx. 725 pupils from Third to Sixth Class enrolled in the school. There are 38 teachers on staff including an Administrative Principal, Administrative Deputy Principal as well as a number of special needs assistants and ancillary staff.


Introductory Statement & Rationale

This policy statement is the approved approach to the teaching of RSE in St. Fiachra’s SNS.

This policy informs teachers and parents of (i) the RSE content that will be taught at each class level and (ii) outlines the organisation and management of the RSE programme across all class levels in St. Fiachra’s SNS.

SPHE and RSE will be taught in accordance with the curriculum guidelines of the Department of Education and in the context of the Catholic ethos and philosophy of the school.


Our School Philosophy

St. Fiachra’s SNS aims to promote the fullest possible development of each child – socially, emotionally, spiritually, physically and intellectually so that he/she may lead a full, enjoyable life as a child and go on to contribute to society as an adult.


Social Personal and Health Education & Relationships & Sexuality Education:

The SPHE curriculum provides opportunities for pupils to learn basic personal and social skills which foster integrity, self-confidence and self-esteem, while nurturing sensitivity to the rights and feelings of others.

The Stay Safe Programme is also an aspect of SPHE and is taught in 4th and 6th class.


Relationships and Sexuality Education (RSE) is an integral part of Social, Personal and Health Education. The RSE programme will be taught within the context of the SPHE curriculum for all class levels. RSE aims to provide opportunities for children and young people to learn about relationships and sexuality in ways that help them think and act in a moral, caring and responsible way.


Specifically the RSE programme as taught in St. Fiachra’s SNS aims

  • to enhance the personal development, self-esteem and well-being of the child.
  • to help young people 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
  • to enhance the capacity of the child to resist sexual exploitation and abuse.


Teaching of RSE in St. Fiachra’s SNS

Learning about Sexuality and Relationships is a lifelong process. Children learn about relationships and sexuality primarily from their families. The school based RSE programme complements and supports what children are learning at home. The Dept. of Education requires all schools to teach RSE and to have an RSE policy. The school policy will ensure that RSE is taught in a way that reflects the core values and ethos of the school. RSE-specific education or core RSE education (sensitive lessons) belong to the strand units Taking care of my body and Growing and Changing.


RSE and ‘Appropriate Language’

“Many children are unable to communicate about themselves, their feelings and bodily functions due to inadequacy of language, acute embarrassment or other factors” “one of the primary objectives of the RSE programme is to provide children with language through which they may seek clarification, ask questions and discuss all aspects of their growth and development” DES Interim RSE Guidelines (1996)

It is important that children are taught the appropriate language in Relationships & Sexuality Education to enable them to communicate confidently about themselves, their sexuality and their relationships

  • Factual language is neutral and non-discriminatory
  • As children get older they will not be embarrassed to use or hear these words
  • Children will be less likely to use crude or abusive language


Organisation of RSE in St. Fiachra’s SNS

  • The DES curriculum will be followed and SPHE/RSE lessons will be taught from

3rd to 6th class by the class teacher.

  • Every class teacher will teach the content for their class level only.
  • Special arrangements exist for the delivery of the sensitive elements in 5th and 6th class
  • Aspects of the SPHE and RSE curriculum may also be integrated with Stay Safe Programme.
  • RSE content will be taught developmentally with age appropriate lessons being

taught at each class level as per the curriculum guidelines.


RSE Topics/ Lessons – from 3rd to 6th Class

  • Bodily changes
  • Healthy eating, personal hygiene and exercise
  • Keeping safe
  • Expressing feelings
  • Appreciating the variety of family types within our 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)
  • Introduction to puberty and changes (3rd, 4th, 5th and 6th 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).


RSE Manuals will be used as a resource in the teaching of RSE


Management of RSE in St. Fiachra’s SNS.

Parents are acknowledged as the primary educators of their children and the school works in partnership with parents in the education process. Parents may request to view the RSE teaching materials and resources. The school will facilitate the provision of further information to parents who may seek to clarify aspects of the RSE content.


Parents have the right to withdraw their child from RSE – specific/sensitive lessons on the understanding that parents will take full responsibility for this aspect of their child’s education themselves. Each year the school will notify parents in advance of the planned teaching of the RSE ‘sensitive lessons’. It will be the responsibility of the parents to inform the school in writing of a decision to withdraw a pupil. However if a pupil is so withdrawn, the school cannot guarantee that other pupils will not inform the pupil in question of the content of the lesson(s), or that teachers or pupils will not refer to or revise aspects of the lesson as necessary during subsequent days/weeks. Our RSE policy is inclusive and the withdrawal of pupils for the ‘sensitive lessons’ will be discouraged. Pupils who are not participating in the RSE ‘sensitive lesson’ will be placed in another class for supervision for the duration of the lesson.


Teachers will model the appropriate vocabulary relating to sexuality, growing up, physical changes, parts of the body and feelings. In teaching RSE the approach in the school is child centred and will always take into account the age and stage of development of the pupils. Teachers will teach only the content/topics advised for the class level and will only answer questions relevant to the programme for that class level. Teachers will not give personal information and will not seek personal information from pupils. Respect for personal privacy and for personal information will be emphasised with the pupils.

Teachers will inform pupils at the beginning of the RSE ‘sensitive lesson’ that it may not be possible to answer all questions from pupils. Pupil questions will be dealt with in accordance with the following criteria: circumstance in which the questions has arisen; clarification of information sought; relevance of the issue. If the question is outside the scope of the content for the class level, teacher may use the following phrases: I won’t be able to answer all your questions in class, that’s something that you will learn about when you are older’ or ‘perhaps you could talk to your parent/s about that’.

Teachers will be aware of the learning needs of their pupils and will differentiate the RSE lessons as appropriate to ensure that pupils with special needs can learn at their level of understanding.

Pupils will be introduced to all aspects of the RSE Programme at an age appropriate level, in accordance with the curriculum guidelines and the school RSE policy.

St. Fiachra’s SNS fully complies with the DES Child Protection Guidelines and has an updated Child Safe guarding Statement. In cases of disclosures from pupils, the DLP/DDLP will follow the procedures as outlined in the Child Protection Procedures for Primary and Post Primary Schools 2017