RSE Policy

RSE POLICY 2017-18






Relationships and Sexuality Education (RSE) is a lifelong process of acquiring knowledge and understanding and of developing attitudes, beliefs and values about sexual identity, relationships and intimacy. RSE is a developmental process through experiential learning in which students participate to help cultivate a healthy attitude towards themselves and others, particularly in the area of sexuality and relationships.

RSE will provide structured opportunities for students to acquire a knowledge and understanding of human relationships and sexuality through processes which will enable them to form values and establish behaviours within a moral, spiritual and social framework. This approach gives opportunities to young people to learn about relationships and sexuality in ways that help them think and act in a moral, caring and responsible manner.

The aims of RSE are:

  • To help young people understand and develop friendships and relationships
  • To promote an understanding of sexuality
  • To promote positive attitude to one’s own sexuality and in one’s relationship with others
  • To promote knowledge and respect for reproduction
  • To enable young people to develop attitudes and values towards their sexuality in the moral, spiritual and social framework

RSE is located in the overall framework of Social Personal and Health Education (SPHE). SPHE provides students with a unique opportunity to develop the skills and competence to learn about themselves and to care for themselves and others and to make informed decisions about their health, personal lives and social development. SPHE is spiral, developmental in nature and age appropriate in content and methodology. The RSE programme is designed to follow this principle and pattern. Apart from the specific lessons of RSE, SPHE covers other areas which would be pertinent to the development of a healthy attitude to sexuality in oneself and one’s relationship with others. SPHE deals with many issues such as self-esteem, assertiveness, communication and decision making skills – all of which can contribute to the effectiveness of the RSE programme.



Relationships and Sexuality Education (RSE) is an integral part of junior cycle SPHE and the Wellbeing curriculum. Its aim is to help young people to ‘acquire a knowledge and understanding of human relationships and sexuality through processes which will enable them to form values and establish behaviours within a moral, spiritual and social framework’. At this age, students are exposed to a lot of information about sex, sexuality and relationships from a variety of sources. RSE provides the context within which students can learn about the physical, social and emotional and moral issues related to relationships, sexual health, sexuality and gender identity including where to source reliable information.



Circular 0037/2010 states all second level schools must develop a school policy in regard to RSE and implement a programme in this area as an element of SPHE at Junior Cycle, and as an RSE programme in Senior Cycle, even in the absence of a timetabled SPHE class. Schools are required to teach all aspects of the RSE programme, elements of the programme cannot be omitted on the grounds of school ethos. All aspects of the programme can and should be taught within the ethos and value system of the school as expressed in the RSE policy. The Board of Management have a responsibility to ensure RSE is made available to all students.

Circular 0015/2017 states the new area of learning entitled Wellbeing will be introduced for First Years from September 2017. A key component of this area of learning is Social, Personal and Health Education (SPHE), including Relationships and Sexuality Education (RSE).



This policy was originally developed in 1999 and has been reviewed annually, most recently this process commenced in September 2017. It was developed in conjunction with:

  • The SPHE teaching team
  • The whole staff
  • The Principal
  • The Board of Management
  • The Parents Association
  • The Student Council





The RSE policy applies to all aspects of teaching and learning about relationships and sexuality.  RSE is a structured module within the SPHE programme at Junior Cycle and Religious Education at Senior Cycle.

In order to be effective the RSE module in Old Bawn Community School must be supported in a school climate that is marked by gender, equity and a healthy respect for sexuality.

Information and discussion regarding RSE can also take place in other classes.  The RSE module is supported by the wider curriculum in such areas as Science, Home Economics, Religious Education, Physical Education and Civic, Social, Political Education. It is therefore important that all teachers are familiar with the RSE policy.

This policy applies to school staff, students, Board of Management, parents/guardians, visiting speakers, external facilitators and outside agencies.



Old Bawn Community School is a place of learning and personal growth. The school community includes students and their families, teachers, ancillary staff, Board of Management and Trustees. We have a place in the wider community of Tallaght and in the overall Education community. Our commitment is to learning in its broadest sense and our procedures and practices reflect this. Respect for the uniqueness of each person in our community commits us to maintaining a caring working environment in which all can achieve fulfilment. All aspects of the school, the range of subjects, classes, learning for life programmes, outdoor pursuits, retreats, sports, trips, and the organisational structure of the school reflect this commitment to learning and personal growth.

The aims of RSE contribute to the overall ethos of Old Bawn Community School in promoting the holistic development of our students. All aspects of the RSE curriculum, including sexual orientation, contraception and sexually transmitted infections, will be taught. Teachers of RSE will facilitate students in discussing a range of views in relation to topics within the RSE programme.



The RSE Policy will:

  • Ensure clarity and consensus on how RSE is taught in Old Bawn Community School
  • Provide information on the practicalities of delivering the programme
  • Clarify the rights, roles and responsibilities of all within the Old Bawn community, in relation to the RSE programme, with particular reference to school staff, students, parents, the Board of Management and the Trustees
  • Ensure that teachers, parents and students understand how the RSE programme is linked to the ethos of Old Bawn Community School





The value placed on SPHE by the school will be evident by the commitment on the part of management to developing a core of trained SPHE teachers preferably gender balanced and to appointing an SPHE co-ordinator. SPHE is enhanced when the appointment of teachers to the subject has been negotiated in advance of timetabling.

In-career development is an integral part of this programme. Management is responsible for responding to the relevant expressed and perceived training needs of SPHE teachers and whole staff.

The SPHE Co-ordinator is Danielle Flynn.

The core SPHE teaching team includes Elaine Brennan, Jillian Edgeworth, Danielle Flynn, Peter Hickey, Amanda Sorohan, Shauna McCormack, Patricia O’Connor, Chloe Walton and Jake Whelan.

All SPHE teachers have undertaken Introduction to SPHE and Junior Cycle RSE in-service training.

Danielle Flynn, Peter Hickey and Patricia O’ Connor have attended Senior Cycle RSE and Sexual Orientation and Gender in-service training.

All other SPHE teachers will attend RSE in-service training over the next two years.

All SPHE teachers have access to resources including:

  • SPHE Junior Certificate Syllabus and Guidelines
  • Junior Cycle Wellbeing Guidelines
  • RSE Junior Cycle Resource Materials Book
  • RSE Senior Cycle Resource Materials Book
  • Before You Decide
  • Trust
  • HSE leaflets and DVDs – Including Busy Bodies, contraception and STI leaflets and DVDs
  • Growing Up LGBT
  • Stand Up Belong To resources
  • Lockers

This list is not exhaustive.


The school accepts that it is in the interests of all parents that their child/children grow up in a healthy and mature fashion. The school will strive to keep parents informed of the contents of the RSE programme. An overview of RSE, course content and when it is taught, are given to parents at the Year Head Parents Information Evenings. The RSE Policy is available on the school website and on request at the school. Notifications regarding reviews are also available on the school website. Parents of incoming first years are informed of the availability of the RSE Policy along with other relevant policies on the school website.

The involvement of parents at the core of RSE gives it extra impetus, depth and validity and from time to time training and/or input and development opportunities will be offered to parents in certain aspects of RSE. The Parents Association is involved in the annual review of the RSE Policy. Parents are made aware of HSE materials such as the ‘You Can talk To Me’ DVD and ‘Advice for Mams and Dads’ leaflet when they attend Year Head Parents Information Evenings or contact the school for information.



Answering Questions

Class discussion will be of a general nature, and will not be personally directed, in accordance with the previously agreed class ground rules. Inappropriate questions will not be answered in class by a teacher, or from student to student. Teachers may not be able to answer all questions asked by students and will set appropriate limits. Students may ask questions about issues which are not included in the curriculum, such as masturbation or abortion. Only questions directly pertinent to the lesson content will be addressed in class. Teachers will use their professional judgement on these, and all questions, guided by the age of the students, the RSE curriculum and the RSE Policy.  If a teacher becomes concerned about a matter that has been raised he/she should seek advice from the Guidance Counsellor, Student Support Team, and/or the Principal.


While an atmosphere of trust is a pre-requisite of RSE, the following limits of confidentiality must be observed. These limits are:

  • Child abuse – physical, emotional, sexual, neglect
  • Intention to harm self or others
  • Substance misuse
  • Underage sexual intercourse

Any disclosure will be reported to the Designated Liaison Person in compliance with the Child Safeguarding Statement and the Child Protection Procedures for Primary and Post Primary Schools 2017.

RSE teachers will inform students of the limits of confidentiality at the beginning of the year, remind them at necessary points throughout the year and where possible before making a disclosure.

Sexual Activity/Contraception/Sexually Transmitted Infections/Sexual Orientation

The pace of social change in Ireland over the last number of years has been rapid. Parents, students and teachers can experience a sense of confusion in relation to sexual mores. The school’s function is to provide a general education about sexual matters and issues and not to offer individual advice, information or counselling on aspects of sexual behaviour, contraception and sexually transmitted infections – however sources of professional information and advice will be identified when appropriate. Teachers may provide pupils with education and information about where and from whom they can receive confidential sexual advice and treatment, e.g. their doctor or other suitable agency. Advice offered should not be directive and should be appropriate to the age of the pupil.

RSE classes will inform students of the age of consent which, in line with the Criminal Law (Sexual Offences) Act, 2006, is 17 years of age for both males and females.

Contraception will be dealt with in an age appropriate, open manner, looking at all sides of the issues in a non-directive way.

Rates of STI transmission are increasing and it is therefore important that the subject is addressed in schools. STIs will be discussed in an age appropriate manner.

Teachers do not promote any one sexual orientation or gender identity as the only acceptable one(s) for society and therefore it is inevitable and natural that sexual orientation and gender identity will be discussed during a programme of sex education. One of the advantages of exploring issues concerning sexual orientation and gender identity is the opportunity to correct false ideas, assumptions and address prejudice. Discussion of sexual orientation and gender identity will be appropriate to the age of the pupils.


Class Organisation and Timetabling

All Junior Cycle classes, 1st, 2nd and 3rd year, are timetabled one class of SPHE a week. SPHE is not a timetabled class for Senior Cycle students, TY, 5th and 6th year, but these students receive at least six classes of RSE a year during Religious Education classes. Students receive SPHE classes in their dedicated class tutor groups. RSE is delivered to mixed groups of students, or single sex groups if deemed necessary. This happens at the discretion of the SPHE teacher and/or the availability of cover.


In accordance with Circular 0023/2010 visiting speakers are rarely used when teaching the RSE programme. If outside speakers are used teachers inviting these speakers must:

  • Inform the Principal in advance
  • Make the speaker aware of the ethos of the school and the SPHE and RSE Policies
  • Agree the content of the presentation
  • Do preparatory and follow up work where possible
  • Remain with the class group during the visit

Students with Special Educational Needs

Children with Special Educational Needs may need more help than others in coping with the physical and emotional aspects of growing up; they may also need more help in learning what sorts of behaviour are and are not acceptable, and in being warned and prepared against abuse by others.

For learning activities to be made meaningful, relevant and achievable for all students, it is important that the teacher finds ways to respond to students’ diversity by using differentiated approaches and methodologies. In consultation with the Special Educational Needs Co-ordinator the following strategies will be adopted:

  • Interacting and working with other students in small groups
  • Spending more time on tasks and organising the learning task into small stages
  • Language used is pitched at the students’ level of understanding
  • Outlining the steps to be learned/completed in any given task
  • Posing key questions to guide students through the different stages/processes
  • Modelling task analysis by talking through the steps of a task as it is being done
  • Having short and varied tasks
  • Displaying word lists and laminated charts with pictures


SPHE at Junior Cycle and RSE at Senior Cycle is a core curricular subject. Each parent has the right to withdraw their child from some or all RSE classes but parents are encouraged to provide alternative RSE at home. The school will respect this choice as their right. It will be necessary for parents of any student opting out of RSE to make suitable arrangements with school management for the welfare of their child at these times. Where students are withdrawn from RSE the school cannot take responsibility for any versions of class content passed on to them by other students. Parents must meet with the Principal in person to discuss their decision to withdraw their child from the RSE module.


  • SPHE Policy
  • Child Safeguarding Statement
  • Anti-Bullying Policy
  • Substance Use Policy
  • Acceptable Use Policy
  • Student Support Policy


  • Physical Education
  • Science
  • Home Economics
  • Religious Education
  • CSPE


The RSE programme and policy will be reviewed and evaluated on an annual basis by the SPHE team.

The opinions of students will be included and SPHE teachers will liaise with the Student Council. The opinions of parents will also be included and SPHE teachers will liaise with the Parents Association. The opinions of management will be included and the SPHE co-ordinator will liaise with the Principal and the Board of Management.



SIGNED _________________________________ (PRINCIPAL)

SIGNED _________________________________ (CHAIRPERSON)

DATE ____________________________




Themes in Junior Cycle RSE:

  • Human Growth and Development

(Puberty/awareness of emotions/fertility conception and birth/STI’s)

  • Human Sexuality

(Gender/sexual orientation/personal safety)

  • Human Relationships

(Self-esteem/friendship/skills for establishing and maintaining relationships/awareness of peer pressure)

RSE Year One

  • Me as unique and different
  • Friendship
  • Changes at adolescence
  • Reproductive system
  • Images of male and female
  • Respecting myself and others

RSE Year Two

  • From conception to birth
  • Recognising and expressing feelings and emotions
  • Peer pressure and other influences
  • Managing relationships
  • Making responsible decisions
  • Health and personal safety

RSE Year Three

  • Body Image
  • Where am I now?
  • Relationships – what’s important
  • The three R’s – respect, rights and responsibilities
  • Conflict






Themes in Senior Cycle RSE:

  • Human Growth and Development

(Fertility/reproductive organs/family planning/pregnancy/development of foetus/STIs)

  • Human Sexuality

(Gender/sexual orientation/attitudes and values/making choices/sexual harassment and abuse)

  • Human Relationships

(Peer pressure/conflict resolution/loving relationships/marriage and commitment/importance of family life)


RSE Year Four

  • Healthy Relationships
  • Influence of Self-Esteem
  • Assertive Communication and Communicating Boundaries
  • Human Sexuality
  • Sexual Orientation
  • Human Reproduction
  • Contraceptive Methods I
  • Sexual Harassment
  • Sexual Assault

RSE Year Five

  • Dealing with Feelings
  • Influence of Self-Esteem
  • Understanding and Communicating Boundaries
  • Human Sexuality
  • Sexual Orientation
  • Human Reproduction
  • Unplanned Pregnancy
  • Contraceptive Methods I and STIs
  • Without Consent and Sexual Abuse

RSE Year Six

  • Loving Relationships
  • Intimacy and Marriage
  • Influences and Values
  • Decision Making
  • Responsible Relationships
  • Contraceptive Methods II
  • Responsible Parenthood
  • STI Transmission
  • Life Support