“Our school exists to serve the educational needs of the community, to enhance student self-confidence, to promote life skills and attitudes which will enable students to live fulfilling lives.”
Social, Personal and Health Education (SPHE) is a programme that provides students with the unique opportunity to develop the skills and competencies to learn about themselves and others and to make informed decisions about their health, personal lives, and social development.
(a) The Aims of SPHE:
Building on the aims of SPHE in the primary school, at post‐primary level SPHE aims:
• To enable the students to develop skills for self‐fulfilment and living in communities.
• To promote self‐esteem and self‐confidence.
• To enable students to develop a framework for responsible decision making.
• To provide opportunities for reflection and discussion.
• To promote physical, mental and emotional health and well‐being.
We see these aims as contributing towards the school’s commitment to nurturing the
values of respect, justice and integrity in all aspects of school life and to fostering the holistic development of the students in our care.
The school recognises that the home is the natural environment where children grow, develop and mature into adults. However, it also accepts as stated in paragraph 9 sub section (d) of the Education Act 1998, its own role in supporting parents in this work and in fostering the social, moral, spiritual and personal development of the students. Our commitment to the development of the student community is evident in the many examples of activities provided. SPHE builds on this commitment.
(b) Programme Content
The curriculum for S.P.H.E. is presented in ten modules. The Department of Education and Science recognises that each school has flexibility within this framework to plan the SPHE Programme most suitable for the students and the school.
(c) The Ten Modules are:
• Belonging and Integrating.
• Self‐management: a sense of purpose
• Communication Skills
• Physical Health
• Relationships and Sexuality Education
• Emotional Health
• Influences and Decisions
• Substance Use
• Personal Safety
As the SPHE programme is primarily skills based, teaching methods should be of an experiential nature with an emphasis on discussion reflection and classroom participation. These teaching methods are child centred and must be appropriate to the age and stage of development of the student. The class atmosphere needs to be one of respect for the privacy of each individual student and hallmarked by sensitivity and care.
SPHE is timetabled for one period a week for all year groups.
Relationships and Sexuality Education (RSE) is a compulsory at Junior and Senior Cycle. It is included as one module of SPHE in Junior Cycle and in Senior Cycle.
Staff Development, Training, and Resource Issues:
The Board of Management will endeavour to provide the necessary resources to support the programme on an on-going basis. School management will encourage and facilitate teachers to attend relevant in-services training for the continued development of the SPHE Programme.
SPHE is a core curricular subject on the Junior Cycle Curriculum. Relationships and Sexuality (RSE) is one module of the programme. 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. It will be necessary for parents of any student opting out of RSE to make suitable arrangements with the school principal 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/Guardians wishing to withdraw their son/daughter from RSE must sign and return a letter permitting their son/daughter not to take part in the RSE classes.
(b) Sensitive Issues
Class discussion will be of a general nature, and will not be personally focused, in accordance with the class ground rules. Inappropriate questions will not be answered by a teacher in class. The SPHE teacher may exercise his or her own professional judgement in deciding whether to answer the question privately after the class has finished. If a teacher becomes concerned about a
matter that has been raised he/she should seek advice from the Principal.
While an atmosphere of trust is pre‐requisite of SPHE class, the following limits of confidentiality must be observed. These limits are:
1. Child abuse: i) Physical, ii) Emotional, iii) Sexual, iv) Neglect.
2. Intention to harm self or others
3. Substance misuse
4. Underage sexual intercourse
SPHE teachers should inform students of these limits at the beginning of the year and where possible before making a disclosure.
While it is acknowledged that teachers have a professional responsibility to impart the SPHE course content, the personal, social and emotional needs of our students are responded to in a caring and supportive manner. Where it is appropriate, the teacher may refer students to other supportive
links within the school. As far as possible this should be done in negotiation with the student. The teacher should inform the class of external services relevant to the class material.
Visiting speakers are seen as complimenting and supporting the SPHE programme in the school. Teachers inviting these speakers must:
1. Inform the Principal in advance
2. Agree the content of the presentation
3. Do preparatory and follow up work where possible4
4. Under normal circumstances remain with the class group during the visit
How the Policy will be Circulated
This policy is available on the school website and upon request from the school office.
Review and Evaluation
The SPHE policy will be reviewed in line with the school’s programme of School Development Planning.