SPHE – Social Personal and Health Education


Introductory Statement and Rationale
Introductory Statement: Following in-service in 2002 it was decided to draw up a whole school plan in SPHE.
Rationale: The plan is a record of whole school decisions in relation to SPHE in line with the Primary Curriculum 1999. Its purpose is to guide the teachers in adopting a consistent and coherent approach to the teaching and learning of SPHE in our school. It is intended to guide teachers in their individual planning for SPHE to ensure appropriate coverage of all aspects of the curriculum from Infants to Sixth Class.
Areas identified for review in 2006 – 2009 are as follows:
·          Draft 2 year plan for SPHE specifying the five strand units covered in each year. Select strand units from each of the three strands to ensure a broad and balanced curriculum.
·          RSE programme and Stay Safe programme to be taught in 2nd/ 3rd term 2005 – 2006.
Vision and Aims
Our school values the uniqueness of all individuals within a caring school community. We recognise that SPHE is intrinsic to the learning and teaching that occurs both formally and informally in the school and in the classroom. Through our SPHE programme we wish to assist children to develop feelings of self-worth and self-confidence while encouraging their ability to relate to others in a positive way. The programme also encourages children to be aware of their rights as individual while at the same time accepting responsibility for their actions as members of the school and the wider community. Parents have the primary role in the social, personal and health education of their children so their involvement will be encouraged as much as possible.
We endorse the aims and objectives of the Curriculum for SPHE and in addition we emphasise the following:
·          To enable the children to develop an awareness of their responsibilities to others in a caring community
·          To enable the children to take greater control of their personal lives as individuals
·          To encourage the children to be active in determining their own learning.
Strands and Strand Units
SPHE is planned in such a way that the child will receive a comprehensive programme in SPHE over a two year period. Teachers are familiar with the content objectives for their class level. The strand units not covered in year one must be included in the teacher’s planning for the following year. In some cases it may be necessary to revise specific objectives from the previous year.
Active learning is the principal teaching and learning approach recommended for SPHE. The SPHE programme reflects a spiral approach, where similar aspects are revisited in different ways according to the age, stage of development and readiness of the child. SPHE is intrinsic to the learning and teaching that occurs both formally and informally in the school and in the classroom.
Contexts for SPHE
SPHE will be taught through a combination of contexts
·          Positive school climate and atmosphere
·          Discrete time
·          Integration with other subject areas
Positive school climate and atmosphere
Teachers are aware of the importance of promoting a positive school climate. Our key messages are:
·          We cater for the individual needs of the children. Individual needs may be social, emotional, spiritual, physical or intellectual. Through assessment, observation and discussion with parents we strive to identify and meet individual needs.
·          We provide opportunities to enhance the self-esteem of all members of the school community. The staff is aware that their role in helping children to develop their self-esteem is to create an environment within the school that is as positive as possible for all concerned.
·          We aim to actively value diversity and to prioritise inclusive and respectful language. We believe that children learn to respect themselves and others through experiencing respect in their own lives and through witnessing respect being shown to others.
·          We work to develop an effective communication system with the school and between school and home.
·          We support a health-promoting physical environment. Emphasis on healthy lunches, healthy lifestyle, road, water, and regular fire drills are some of the areas promoted. Taking responsibility and pride in the school environment is encouraged through our litter prevention programme, our involvement in the Green Schools programme and through constant review and promotion of behaviour habits required for maintaining a clean environment.
·          We promote democratic processes in all levels of school life while balancing roles, rights and responsibilities. Children experience and practice the democratic process by:
o         Negotiating the class rules at the start of the year
o         Sharing responsibility
o         Valuing the opinion of others
o         Experiencing a sense of belonging to their own class group and the wider school community
o         Developing a sense of commitment to common goals.
Discrete time
SPHE may be timetabled for ½ hour per week. One hour per fortnight or blocks of 1 – 2 hours per month where feasible or appropriate. Children who are withdrawn for supplementary teaching must be included for as much of the SPHE programme as possible. The discrete time is used to develop and practise particular skills, deal with sensitive issues or explore issues that are not addressed in other areas of the curriculum. Content objectives dealing with RSE and child protection are addressed through discrete time.
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 Religion, English, Gaeilge, SESE, Visual Arts, Drama.
Approaches and methodologies
Teachers know that active learning is the principal learning and teaching approach used in the SPHE programme. The following active learning strategies are promoted for SPHE:
o         Drama activities
o         Co-operative games
o         Pictures, photographs and visual images
o         Discussion: in pairs, small groups, with whole class
o         Written activities: surveys, questionnaires, lists, check-lists, projects, worksheets
o         Media Studies
o         Information and communication technologies
o         Looking at children’s work: portfolios, projects …
o         Other strategies as devised by the class teacher
Children’s progress in SPHE is assessed mainly through teacher observation:
o         The ability of the child to co-operate and work in groups or to work independently
o         The informal interactions between the child and adults and between the child and other children
o         Physical and emotional maturity
o         The quality of presentation of work
o         The participation and interest of the child in a variety of activities.
Children with different needs
The requirements of children with special needs will be taken into consideration when planning class lessons and related activities. Children who experience bereavement or loss, serious illness or other major personal situations are supported and consideration is given to meeting their individual needs in the most appropriate manner.
Equality of participation and access
We view the SPHE programme as playing a key role in ensuring equality of opportunities for all children.
Policies and programmes that support SPHE
SPHE links with other policies/ programmes used in the school – Substance Use, Stay Safe, Child Protection, Code of Behaviour, Anti Bullying, Health and Safety statement, Healthy Eating, Care of the Environment. Teachers are expected to be familiar with these policies and ensure that the schools agreed policy is followed when addressing these issues.
Relationships and Sexuality in Education and Stay Safe Programme
In circular 2/95 issued by the Department of Education and Science the minister requested all schools to introduce Relationship Sexuality Education (RSE) as part of the curriculum. In the 1999 curriculum RSE was included in Social Personal and Health Education.
RSE is a life long process of acquiring knowledge and understanding and of developing attitudes, beliefs and values about sexual identity, relationships and intimacy. In a school situation RSE, provides structured opportunities for pupils to acquire a knowledge and understanding of human relationships and sexuality through processes which enable them to form values and to establish behaviours within a moral, spiritual and social framework, appropriate to their age. RSE will be taught in accordance with the Department’s directives and within the Philosophy framework of the school. Teachers will not teach any content outside the Religion programme used by the school or the DES curriculum. The teaching methods used in the school are child centred and reflect the age and stage of development of each child. Sensitive issues will be dealt with appropriately.
In partnership with the home our aims are:
·          To provide opportunities for our pupils to learn about relationships and sexuality, imparted in a loving and caring way, within a wholesome environment
·          To help them think and act in a moral caring and responsible way
·          To learn about their own development and about their friendships and relationships with others.
The development of relationships is an integral part of all curriculum subjects. Aspects of RSE are taught during SPHE, Religion, Science, implementation of the Code of Behaviour etc. An integrative approach towards RSE ensures that the children encounter RSE in a holistic manner rather than in isolation.
Junior Infants, Senior Infants, 1st/2nd class
Naming parts of the body including parts of the male and female body using appropriate anatomical terms (10 minutes approx.).
3rd/4th classes
Sequence of development of the human baby from conception to birth.
(40 minutes approx.)
5th /6th classes
Changes in male and female bodies as they grow
Reproductive system of male and female
Understanding sexual intercourse, conception and birth.
( 3 hours approx.)
Dealing with Questions:
Teachers do not cover content outside that of the DES curriculum or the school’s religion programme. Topics excluded include contraception, same sex friendships, abortion etc. Answers to questions must be in line with the Catholic Church’s teaching i.e.  sexual intercourse will be discussed within the context of marriage. At the same time teachers should answer questions sensitively aware that there are children in our school from many social backgrounds. No child should be made feel uncomfortable or embarrassed when these issues are raised.
Children, who ask questions in class on content outside the curriculum taught, should be talked to individually and discretely, as soon as is possible, by the teacher and encouraged to seek answers from their parents. If a child poses such a question the parents will be informed and asked not to ignore it but to deal with it as they see fit.
To teach children personal safety skills so they can look after themselves in situations which could be upsetting or dangerous.
The lessons cover the following areas:
·          Feeling Safe and Unsafe
·          Friendship and Bullying
·          Touches
·   ��      Secrets and Telling
·          Strangers
Children participating in this programme will learn:
·          To distinguish between safe and unsafe feelings
·          What to do if lost
·          What to do if the phone or doorbell rings when they are alone in the house
·          The importance of friends in children’s lives
·          What to do if bullied
·          Stay Safe Rules: Say No/ Get Away/ Tell
·          Why not to bully others
·          Appreciating normal, appropriate touches
·          That unsafe touches should never be kept secret
·          How to respond to inappropriate touches (Stay Safe Rules)
·          Good and bad secrets
·          That some secrets should not be kept
·          Who and how to tell if in trouble
·          About strangers and safety strategies
Request for withdrawal by parent of pupil or teacher:
If parents are concerned about the more sensitive aspects of the RSE or Stay Safe programmes, they are welcome to visit the school to examine the content of the programmes and discuss their concerns with the principal. Following this meeting if parents wish to have their child/ren withdrawn when sensitive issues are being taught, they are requested to submit this in writing to the Principal. Parents will be expected to make their wishes know each year to the new class teacher. Efforts will be made by the school, using the resources it has, to accommodate these children by providing supervision within another classroom. Teachers cannot be held responsible for language used necessarily in school life or by children.
A teacher who is concerned about teaching a particular topic within the RSE or Stay Safe programme should talk to the principal about his/her concerns. Such concerns will be handled discreetly. The BOM will endeavour to accommodate such teachers. Resources outside the school profession will be availed of if considered appropriate.
Teachers will decide the timetabling of RSE/Stay Safe lessons and a letter will be sent to parents prior to the commencement of these lessons (APPENDIX A). If there is no request for the withdrawal of a child from this work the lessons should be spread through the term/s rather than taught within a concentrated timeframe. This allows the children the time to absorb the values within which this knowledge is presented.
Child Protection:
The school follows the DES Child Protection Guidelines and Procedures, which are based on Children First, national Guidelines for the Protection and Welfare of Children. The principal is the designated liaison person (DLP). Each teacher has a copy of our policy on Child Protection and a copy is available to parents, through the secretary, if they request one.
A comprehensive selection of resources is available in the staff room for teaching all strand units including Walk Tall, Stay Safe programme, Relationships and Sexuality (DES), Circle Time. Materials must be signed for and returned following use. Materials purchased with school funds remain the property of the school.
Suitable videos are stored in the teachers’ staff room. They are listed under subject headings. Teachers should not use videos/DVDs or TV programmes for SPHE without consulting the principal.          
Parental involvement
SPHE is a shared responsibility between family and school.
o         Copies of the school plan for SPHE are available from the office
o         Parents will be made aware of content objectives that deal with ‘sensitive’ issues before teachers cover these in class and will be asked to discuss these issues with their child prior to the lessons in school (Appendix A).
Community links
The school will liaise with the Health Promotion Unit of the Health Board and other agencies to assist, as appropriate, the school’s programme for SPHE.
January 2006
Dear Parents,
We are planning to teach the Stay Safe Programme and Relationships and Sexuality Programme to all classes over the next two school terms, as part of the subject Social Personal and Health Education (SPHE). All teachers on staff have attended in-service training on delivering the SPHE curriculum to primary school children and are fully qualified to do so. You, the parents are the primary educators of your children. Ideally, Relationships and sexuality should be addressed by parents, in the home, as they see fit. Sometimes, for different reasons, children do not get this information at home. At this stage of the year teachers know the children in their classes; know their sensitivities and make every effort to cater for their different needs. Now that we have received clarity from the DES on what should be taught and training on how to teach it, it is not necessary to employ someone from outside the school, to teach the Relationships and Sexuality Programme. It is best that this is taught naturally and appropriately within the school day, taking into consideration the age of the children. We would appreciate it if you would cover these topics as listed below and overleaf, with your children over the next few weeks. If you have any concerns about this programme I will be happy to meet with you. A copy of our SPHE policy, is available from the secretary, Ms. Anne Igoe, at 090 6626872. The following objectives cover the ‘sensitive’ areas in the RSE and Stay Safe programmes.
Strand unit: Taking care of my body
Knowing about my body (10 minute lesson approx.)
·          Name parts of the male and female body, using appropriate anatomical terms
Strand unit: Safety and protection
Personal Safety
·          Identify situations and places that are safe and those where personal safety might be at risk.
Strand unit: Taking care of my body
Knowing about my body
·          Realise the importance of caring for and treating his/her own body, and that of others, with dignity and respect
Strand unit: Growing and changing
Birth and new life (40 minutes approx.)
·          Discuss the stages and sequence of development of the human baby, from conception to birth.
Strand unit: Safety and protection
Personal Safety
·          Identify people, places and situations that may threaten personal safety.
(3 hours approximately)
Strand unit: Taking care of my body
Knowing about my body
·          Recognise the importance of treating his/her body and others with dignity and respect
·          Identify and discuss the physical and other changes that occur in boys and girls with the onset of puberty and understand that these take place at different rates for everyone
·          Understand the reproductive system of both male and female adults
·          Become aware of some communicable diseases and explore how diseases and infections spread.
Strand unit: Growing and changing
As I grow I change
·          Explore patterns of development and growth, comparing present development with that of earlier stages: physical, social, emotional, intellectual and spiritual
Birth and new life
·          Understand sexual intercourse, conception and birth within the context of marriage involving a committed, loving relationship.
·          Discuss and explore the responsibilities involved in being a parent and the emotional and physical maturity required to be a parent
Strand unit: Safety and protection
Personal Safety
·          Identify situations and places that may threaten personal safety.
All parents should discuss these topics with their child prior to class discussion. If you have any questions or concerns about the programmes please do not hesitate to contact me or your child’s class teacher.
Yours sincerely,
Úna Feeley: Principal

 SPHE Whole School Yearly Plan

Junior/ Senior Infants term 1 (Revised in June 2015)

Junior/Senior Infants term 2 (Revised in June 2015)

Junior/Senior infants term 3 (Revised in June 2015) 

1st/2nd Year 1 and Year 2

3rd/4th Year 1 and Year 2

5th/6th Year 1

5th/6th Year 2