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RSE Policy


Relationships and Sexuality Policy


In St Patrick’s Primary School we challenge, motivate, and inspire in a happy, safe and stimulating learning environment where all members of the school community are valued, grow in the Catholic faith, develop their self-esteem and achieve their full potential as a unique individual so that they can play a valuable role in society.


Relationships and Sexuality Education (RSE) is essential if young people are to make responsible and well-informed decisions about their lives. Such education will be taught in a sensitive and inclusive manner appropriate to the pupil’s emotional and physical age and stage of development. The focus is to provide pupils with the skills to build healthy, respectful relationships and to provide information to encourage self-esteem, positive beliefs and mutual respect so children can develop their physical, social and emotional well-being in an ever changing world.

Our Policy takes into account the following policy and guidelines:

•          Circular 2001/15 Relationships and Sexuality Education;

•          Circulars 2001/15a and 2001/15b);

•          Circular 2013/16 ];

•          Circular 2015/22 Relationships and Sexuality Education.

•          CCEA RSE Guidance: An update for Primary Schools 2015



St Patrick’s Primary School is committed to the education of children regardless of race, religion, gender or status. All pupils have a right to an education which adequately prepares them for adult life, and RSE plays an integral part in this education. In the Northern Ireland Primary School Curriculum, one of the areas of learning is Personal Development and Mutual Understanding (PDMU). An integral part of the PDMU curriculum is the provision of RSE. As a Catholic school, St Patrick’s Primary School advocates the promotion of a ‘Personal Development’ approach to RSE, whereby all pupils in our care are equipped with the skills to help them resist peer and media pressure, and to help them make informed decisions based on their own intrinsic self-respect and self-esteem. Pupils are encouraged to recognise their individual needs in relation to the needs and wants of others. Our RSE programme has a positive effect on self-esteem creating in the pupils a climate of trust and acceptance where each person is valued, respected and encouraged to feel good about themselves. RSE is a lifelong process that involves the acquisition of knowledge, understanding and skills and the development of attitudes, beliefs, morals and values.

Through RSE and other areas of the curriculum we will assist the work of parents to prepare children for life in a moral and spiritual context.


Our work in RSE contributes towards the following school aims:

  • morals and values, consistent with our Catholic ethos
  • respect for themselves, each other and their environment
  • self-confidence, independence, self-discipline and high self esteem


The aims of RSE are:

  • To      enhance the personal development, self-esteem and well-being of the child
  • To help      young people recognise their worth and dignity
  • To help      young people understand their uniqueness
  • To      establish relationships with others
  • To encourage      the children to develop healthy and respectful friendships and      relationships
  • To      develop a respect for difference, gender and race
  • To      establish in the child a value for family, life and marriage



The RSE curriculum should enable pupils to:

  • Acquire and develop knowledge and understanding of themselves
  • Develop positive self-awareness and self-esteem
  • Develop an appreciation of the dignity, uniqueness and well-being of others
  • Understand development of relationships within families and in friendships
  • Become aware of different family patterns
  • Use decision-making and problem solving strategies
  • Acquire communication and social interaction skills
  • Discuss their feelings using appropriate vocabulary


RSE should enable pupils to develop a respect for and interest in the belief of others. They need to explore values and attitudes considering how they and others are affected by them.

In St. Patrick’s we want our children to:

  • Distinguish      between right and wrong
  • Be      responsible for their own actions
  • Discuss      their own attitudes and values
  • Show      awareness of the short and long term consequences of their actions


The effectiveness of our policy and programme depends upon the involvement of teachers, parents, governors and other education and health professionals. Each of these has distinctive contributions to make to our policy. It is our role to assist the work of parents and to teach RSE in a manner appropriate to the emotional and psychological development of the child.

In developing our policy we have consulted parents. A copy of our policy is readily available for parents on request, on our school App and on our website. Parents may express their views and opinions at any time and feedback should be provided to the Principal. We will review our policy annually make alterations as necessary as required.

In St Patrick’s we recognise that there is a need for parents to be involved in developing the Personal Development curriculum in school and for them to be supported so that they can help keep their children safe outside of school hours’ We endeavour to support parents by:

  • holding awareness-raising      workshops e.g. Internet Safety Workshop
  • sharing resources to educate      parents or carers on, for example, how to ensure that their child is using      social media safely and responsibly.
  • keeping them informed of the      programmes provided within the school and the content of them.
  • ensuring that they know that      the teaching of Relationships and Sexuality Education will be delivered in      the context of the Catholic ethos of St Patrick’s.


The RSE Policy is strongly linked to the following policies held within the school:

  • Pastoral Care
  • Child Protection
  • RE
  • Esafety
  • ICT and Online Safety
  • PDMU
  • Promoting Positive Behaviour
  • Drugs Education
  • Anti-bullying
  • Confidentiality

Withdrawal from Relationships and Sexuality Education

St Patrick’s recognises that in Northern Ireland, parents have the right to have their child educated in accordance with their wishes and so will respect the wishes of a parent should they request to have their child withdrawn from RSE and/or associated programmes. If a parent or carer chooses to withdraw a child from all or part of Relationships and Sexuality Education, we will discuss the potentially detrimental effect that this can have on their child, the social and emotional effects of being excluded, as well as the likelihood that the child will hear their peers’ version of what happened or what was said in the classes, rather than the safe and reliable source of the teacher’s.


In St. Patrick’s we recognise that there are many benefits from having the expertise and skills of education and health professionals from outside agencies or from individuals in the wider community supporting our RSE Programme. These include the following:

  • Outside agencies/individuals in the wider community can bring specialist knowledge, expertise and experience into the classroom;
  • The novelty of a new visitor coming into the classroom/school is often welcomed by pupils;
  • It can increase the pupils’ knowledge of services which can be accessed in the local community, and teach them how to go about accessing these services if and when they need them; and
  • It can enhance teachers’ capacity by updating their knowledge and/or showing new pedagogy/teaching practices used by the outside agency/individual.

In St Patrick’s the Love for Life group provide the ‘What’s Inside’ Programme to our P7 class. The activities complement the RSE curriculum. Pupils are prepared for the visit and parental permission is received. The session is informal and follow-up activities are undertaken by the class teacher.

We also access outside agencies such as Women’s Aid, Childline, Cancer Focus, Fire and Rescue Services and the NSPCC to provide programmes to support our RSE. Content of the programme is agreed before delivery with guidance provided to the agency/individual of our Safeguarding Policy and Procedures.

Our Use of the Internet and eSafety Policy promote safe use of internet and through our focus on Internet Safety Week and eSafety workshops we actively promote the safe use of the internet amongst our pupils, parents and staff.

In our school any outside agency/individual delivering a support session in a school:

  • receives a copy of the      school’s Relationships and Sexuality Education Policy;
  • is provided with a copy of the      school’s Child Protection Policy;
  • is provided with a copy of the      school’s Code of Conduct;
  • agrees to respect the ethos      of the school;
  • is made aware of the issues      around confidentiality; and
  • is vetted as appropriate.



Confidentiality cannot be guaranteed. Where there is disclosure by a child of abuse, the school’s Child Protection/Safeguarding procedures will be implemented.

The classroom is an open environment and confidentiality cannot be guaranteed. Therefore, staff and pupils are not encouraged to talk about their personal relationships or experiences during class discussions.

The child’s right to privacy must be respected at all times by both the teacher and all other pupils in the class. A key rule to agree in advance of any discussion is that no one will be expected to ask or answer any personal questions. It is equally important that the teacher shares this right and never feels obliged to impart information about his/her own personal life. Teachers will take decisions relating to personal disclosures in accordance with the school’s Child Protection Policy which reflects the procedures set out in the Department of Education’s guidance.

In summary these are:

  • The staff member should      immediately inform the designated child protection teacher.
  • The designated child      protection teacher must inform/consult with Social Services and/or the      PSNI.
  • No staff member should take      on the role of investigator – this is the responsibility of Social Services      and the PSNI.
  • Staff members should explain      their responsibilities to refer cases of alleged abuse to the appropriate      authorities, but they also must ensure that the matter will only be      disclosed to the people who need to know about it.
  • Staff members should give      the pupil time to talk without interrupting or probing, recording exactly      what the pupil says, whilst not promising confidentiality.



In our school our Catholic Religious Education Programme, Grow In Love is at the centre of our RSE programme, with RSE integrated into our PDMU lines of progression. The value of human life and the uniqueness of each individual will be at the heart of the school’s RSE teaching.

There will be no direct teaching of issues such as LGBQ, AIDS, Female Genital Mutilation, contraception etc. However, if these issues are raised by pupils, the teachers will address them sensitively in line with our Safeguarding and Child Protection policy and procedures

Together, our RE, PDMU, WAU and RSE programme provide structured opportunities for pupils to develop knowledge, understanding and skills about:


  • themselves and their personal attributes.
  • their      self-esteem and self-confidence.
  • their      self-esteem, self-confidence and how they develop as individuals.

Feelings and Emotions

  • their      own and others’ feelings and emotions.
  • their      own and other’s feelings and emotions and how their actions affect others.
  • their      management of a range of feelings and emotions and the feelings and      emotions of others.

Health, Growth and Change

  • the      importance of keeping healthy
  • strategies      and skills for keeping healthy
  • how      to sustain health, growth and well-being


  • How      to keep safe in familiar and unfamiliar environments
  • Strategies      and skills for keeping safe
  • Coping      safely and efficiently with their environment


  • Their      relationships with family and friends and initiating mutually satisfying      relationships
  • Initiating      and sustaining mutually satisfying relationships

Similarities and difference

  • Similarities      and differences between people
  • Valuing      and celebrating cultural differences and diversity

In our curriculum RSE is developed in a holistic and cross curricular way. It links with other curricular areas. We encourage active learning strategies .e.g. brainstorming, discussion techniques, reporting back, listening exercises, circle time, role-play, questionnaires and quizzes.

Teachers will create a classroom environment which is supportive, where self-esteem is fostered and where all pupils feel valued. Pupils will feel comfortable to express opinions and feelings in a safe and secure way. On most occasions classes will be arranged in mixed gender.   However, should learning focus on a gender specific area children may be arranged in a single gender group. If this is the case, parents will be made aware of it.

The main resources to support our RSE programme is the Alive-O and Grow in Love RE Programme and our PDMU programme. Where, necessary teachers will source and use resources relating to the area or theme of learning that are age appropriate and consistent with the morals and values of our school. All resources will be checked thoroughly for suitability prior to use.

Children with Special Educational Needs are provided with appropriate learning opportunities through carefully planned and prepared lessons which may have been adapted to ensure the learning is inclusive.

When teaching Relationships and Sexuality Education, there will be times when the topics teachers cover may receive ‘inappropriate’ views from children. This can be down to several factors, including the diversity of the child’s personal experiences, and the opinions and values of each child within the classroom.

When teaching sensitive issues, teachers will plan for and be prepared to deal with the responses which pupils have. If teachers challenge children’s views and assumptions with sensitivity, and in a way which they will understand, they can help them to develop an understanding of their feelings, thinking and behaviour.

Pupils will also be encouraged to develop strategies to manage their own emotions, and show sensitivity and respect for the emotions and different views of others.

There will be occasions when teachers will be asked questions they had not planned for. When this occurs they will use their own discretion and judgement about how to deal with them. Teachers will to decide whether it is appropriate to deal with the question in a whole-class forum, through circle time, or if it is maybe more appropriate to respond on an individual basis, or to arrange time for group discussion outside class time. The teacher may also wish to discuss the questions the children have asked with the parents or carers and/or a senior member of staff to ascertain how they would like to handle the matter.


The policy will be monitored and evaluated throughout the school with specific emphasis on individual lessons, the actual programme, staff feedback, pupil feedback and parental views. Evaluations will be kept simple and varied.

As a Catholic school we receive an annual visit from our Diocesan Adviser who provides us with an external evaluation of our programme, identifying areas of strength and development.

RSE is included in our School Development plan. It is monitored and evaluated, identifying strengths and areas for future development. New and current information on RSE is considered and planned for in the SDP. This will include provision of training opportunities for teachers such as in-service training courses, during directed time and on staff development days.


In St Patrick’s School Relationships and Sexuality Education is coordinated by Miss H McEvoy. She is provided with training opportunities and will disseminate them amongst the staff, where appropriate.