School Philosophy/Ethos: Lanesboro Community College is a multi-denominational, coeducational school committed to providing a holistic education in an atmosphere which promotes individual rights. We encourage the full and harmonious development of each pupil, (social, spiritual, emotional, physical); in an atmosphere of care, respect, trust, love and concern. Each child is encourages to achieve his/her full potential in partnership with parents, teachers and the wider community. We try to make our school a place where our young people feel accepted and are allowed to exercise an appropriate level of responsibility. Self-esteem is encouraged and fostered.
What is SPHE SPHE is short for Social, Personal and Health Education aimed at:
- Enabling students to develop personal and social skills.
- Promoting self esteem and self confidence.
- Enabling students to develop a framework for responsible decision making.
- Providing opportunities for reflection and discussion.
- Promoting physical, mental and emotional health and well being.
This links directly to our school ethos. SPHE is supported by the whole school and our school is a Health Promoting School.
What is RSE
RSE is a life long process of acquiring knowledge and understanding of developing attitudes, beliefs and values about sexual identity and relationships. In the school situation R.S.E. provides structured opportunities for pupils to acquire a knowledge and understanding of human relationship and sexuality through processes which enable them to form values and to establish behaviours within a moral, spiritual and social framework.
RSE in context
The RSE programme takes place within the wider context of SPHE and contributes towards the development of all aspects of the individual – aesthetic, emotional, cultural, intellectual, moral, physical, political, religious, social and spiritual – for living and interacting with the community. It provides students with the opportunity to develop the skills and competencies to learn about themselves, to care for themselves and others, and to make informed decisions about their health, personal lives and social development.
Areas of SHPE and RSE already covered
While the school will have one or more teachers dedicated as RSE instructors it should be appreciated that teachers from other areas may have expertise in parts of the RSE programme. Such areas may include Home Economics, Science, Religious Instruction, PE and CSPE. At senior level, contributions could be made from Biology, Home Economics, RE and PE.
SPHE at Junior Cycle is timetabled for one class period per week per year. RSE is covered during five or six of these classes per year as per Department recommendations.
RSE at senior cycle is covered during five or six class periods per year for fourth and fifth year students – as part of their Religious Education.
Management will endeavour to accommodate the wish of any teacher who does not wish to teach a particular topic. Resources outside the school profession will be availed to if considered appropriate. The programme will be taught in accordance with the Department directive. 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. It is the right of any parent to have their child withdrawn from the program but the school will be offering the program to all students as per Department regulations.
Review and Evaluation
Parents and teachers wishing to further their interest in the subject will be facilitated and encouraged. The programme will be reviewed and evaluated by the relevant staff when deemed necessary. A review of the policy statement will take place at the end of the year.
Relationships and Sexuality Education Policy Statement
In this policy document all references to gender are taken to be inclusive and the term “parent” is taken to include “guardian”.
The school is a co-educational, academically non-selective day school, with an enrolment varying between 140-180 pupils.
Our School Philosophy
- The school encourages its pupils to consider and assess different viewpoints in relation to issues of morality. The experience gained through the working out of this policy and through respecting the needs of minority groups and individuals enriches the whole life of the school.
- The school gives its pupils the opportunity to explore the humanities, sciences, arts, business studies and technical subjects. In addition it provides religious, moral and physical education in order to meet its founding objectives of supporting pupils in achieving their full academic potential and preparing them for participation in civic society and working life.
- Discipline is founded on the principles of respect for people, environment, property and safety. All rules follow from these basic principles which are intended to create and maintain a happy and stable community.
The best way in which the school can operate with the maximum happiness and fulfilment for everybody is if the maximum courtesy and respect is shown for other people. Pupils at the school are expected to respect the dignity of other pupils, teachers and other staff in the school and have the right to expect that their own dignity will be respected.
Definition of Relationships and Sexuality Education
RSE is a developmental process through experiential learning I which pupils participate to help cultivate a healthy attitude towards themselves and others, particularly in the area of sexuality and relationships.
Relationships and Sexuality Education within Social Personal and Health Education
The Draft Guidelines for RSE (NCCA, June 1995, 1.2) state that Social Personal and Health Education 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.
The aims of our Relationships and Sexuality Education Programme
Relationships and sexuality education which is located in the overall framework of Social, Personal and Health Education, has as its specific aims:
- To help pupils understand and develop friendships and relationships
- To promote an understanding of sexuality
- Promote a positive attitude to one’s own sexuality and in one’s relationship with others
- To promote knowledge of and respect for reproduction
- To enable pupils to develop attitudes and values towards their sexuality in a moral, spiritual and social framework in keeping with the policy of the school
- To provide opportunities for pupils to learn about relationships and sexuality in ways that help them think and act in a moral, caring and responsible way.
It is acknowledged that in a course of limited duration these aims are aspirational.
Guidelines for the Management and Organisation of Relationships and Sexuality Education in Our School
Arrangements regarding the teaching of the programme and the deployment of staff will be made by the Principal.
Informing and Involving Parents
Parents are primary educators of their children and their role in education concerning relationships and sexuality is seen by the school as very important.
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 and contraception – 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 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.
It may not be appropriate to deal with some explicit questions in class. Teachers may choose to say that it is not appropriate to deal with that question at this time. If a teacher becomes concerned about a matter that has been raised he/she should seek advice from the SPHE co-ordinator or the Principal. When deciding whether or not to answer questions the teacher should consider the age and readiness of the students, the RSE programme content, the ethos of the school and the RSE policy.
It is school policy that in circumstances where a pupil is considered at some risk of any type of abuse or in breach of the law, the teacher must refer this immediately to the Principal. The Principal will decide whether to inform the parents and/or appropriate authorities and may arrange for counselling.
The following is also school policy:
- Teachers must not promise absolute confidentially
- Pupils must be made aware that any incident may be conveyed to the Principal and possibly to parents if the Principal decides that it is in the best interests of the pupil to notify parents
- Teachers must use their professional judgement to decide whether confidence can be maintained having head the information
- Teachers must indicate clearly to pupils when the content of a conversation can no longer be kept confidential – the pupil can then decide whether to proceed or not.
The Child Protection Guidelines for Post Primary schools state in 4.1.1. and 4.2.1.
4.1.1 If a member of staff receives an allegation or has a suspicion that a child may have been abused, or is being abused, or is at risk of abuse he/she should, without delay, report the matter to the Designated Liaison Person in that school. A written record of the report should be made and placed in a secure location by the Designated Liaison Person. The need for confidentiality at all times, as previously referred to in Chapter 1 Paragraph 1.2 of these guidelines, should be borne in mind. The supports of the school should continue to be made available to the child.
4.2.1 If the Designated Liaison Person is satisfied that there are reasonable grounds for the suspicion or allegation he/she should report the matter to the relevant health board immediately.
The Division Between Biological and Non-biological Aspects of Sex Education:
The school policy is that the Science Department deals primarily with the biological aspects of reproduction.
Withdrawing Pupils From the RSE Programme
- Each parent/guardian has the right to withdraw his/her child from some or all RSE classes. The school will respect their right to choice. The Principal or class teacher should be informed in writing regarding their decision so that alternative arrangements can be made for the student. Parents will be notified in advance of the module being covered by standard letter or note home in Homework Journal (to be signed by parent). Details of the RSE programme and resources are available for parents to view at any time.
- Issues such as over population and birth control are met in a minor way in subjects such as Geography and RE. However, as any discussion is limited and set within the context of other subject concerned, it does not constitute part of the RSE programme.
- Parents do not have to give reasons for withdrawal, but we respectfully invite them to so do so – sometimes we can them resolve misunderstandings. Once a parent’s request to withdraw is made, that request must be complied with until revoked by the parent (See also appendix 1)
Using Visiting Speakers and Others
- It is school policy that most of the RSE programme is best discussed openly with teachers who are known and trusted by the pupils. However visitors can enhance the quality of the provision as long as they are used in addition to, not instead of a planned programme of RSE.
- The SPHE Co-ordinator will provide the visitor, well in advance of the visit, with a copy of the RSE policy. After gaining approval from the Principal for the visit the organiser makes the visitor aware of the ethos of the school and the manner of delivery of the RSE programme. Issues to consider are:
- The degree of explicitness of the content and presentation.
- Will the visitor be accompanied by teacher staff?
- Will the staff take an active role in the visitor’s activities?
- How will the visitor be prepared for the visit?
- How will the visit be built upon and followed up?
- Visitors should be given advance notice of the composition of the class and an idea of how their contribution fits into the scheme of work.
- In order to inform the visitor of the precise requirements of a group and to make better use of the time of the visitor it is advisable for the group to draw up questions in advance and these should be forwarded to the visitor. This will involve the pupils in the visit and will make the experience more relevant for them – it also facilitates planning.
- The office should be informed of the date and name of the visitor.
- Where applicable, refreshments should be arranged with the catering staff.
- The visitor should be welcomed at the main door.
- At the end of the session a vote of thanks should be given by a pupil and the visitor escorted to the main door after refreshments.
- A written acknowledgement of their contribution should be sent to the visitor and could appear in the School Newsletter.
Teachers do not promote any one life-style as the only acceptable one for society and therefore it is inevitable and natural that homosexuality will be discussed during a programme of sex education. One of the advantages of exploring issues concerning homosexuality is the opportunity to correct false ideas, assumptions and address prejudice. Discussion of homosexuality should be appropriate to the age of the pupils.
This topic will be dealt with in an age appropriate, open manner, looking at all sides of the issues in a non-directive way.
Children with special 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.
Ongoing Support, Development and Review
- All teachers involved in this work do not necessarily have to be “experts” on the issues concerned. However, they do require sensitivity to the needs of the group, an ability to deal with questions openly/honestly and a preparedness to refer to more expert advice if necessary. The skills acquired in general teaching apply also to health education. Furthermore, many teachers have training in related areas such as counselling. Some teachers have expert training in the specific areas of health, relationships and sexuality education and will be encouraged to train other teachers.
- The school will facilitate teachers to obtain expert training in this field, bearing in mind the overall budgetary framework and the need for the ongoing teaching and learning programme of the school to continue with as little disturbance as possible.
The school will purchase appropriate RSE teaching materials which have been identified by staff as useful and which have been approved by the Principal, within the normal budgetary framework and as general school resources allow.
Monitoring, Evaluating and Reviewing the RSE Programme:
We are committed to monitoring and evaluating the effectiveness of this programme. Specifically important to the RSE Programme are:
- Pupil feedback via the student council.
- Staff review and feedback
- Parental feedback