Cnoc an Chonnaidh, Muineachán, H18 W897

+353 (0) 47 72344


RSE (Relationships and Sexuality Education) is considered to be a “lifelong process” of acquiring knowledge and understanding and of developing attitudes, beliefs and values about sexual identity, relationships and intimacy. Parents, teachers, peers, adults and the media deliver this education both consciously and unconsciously.

This policy should be read in conjunction with other school policies including Child Protection, Ant-Bullying, Career Guidance and Counselling, Substance Abuse and Social Media.

Mission Statement

Coláiste Oiriall is a centre of learning in which each person is treated as an individual. The staff and students work together to excel in a safe and friendly environment, and in a atmosphere of mutual respect and co-operation. The Irish language and culture is the foundation for every aspect of school life.


 “RSE aims to provide opportunities for young people to learn about relationships and sexuality in ways that help them to think and act in a moral, caring and responsible way.” (Going Forward Together, Department of Education & Science, 1997)

Coláiste Oiriall’s RSE programme promotes an expression of responsibility and respectful attitudes and behaviour towards oneself and others. RSE is considered to be a lifelong process of acquiring knowledge and understanding and of developing positive attitudes, beliefs and values about sexual identity, relationships and intimacy.


This policy will apply to all aspects of teaching and learning about relationships and sexuality. As discussion about relationships and sexuality can take place in classes outside RSE/SPHE, it is important that all teachers are familiar with the RSE policy. The policy will apply to school staff, students, board of management, parents/guardians, visiting speakers and external facilitators. Section 4 of the rules and programmes for secondary schools require schools to have an agreed policy for RSE in place at both junior and senior cycle. At junior cycle the RSE programme is part of SPHE. At senior cycle, RSE is taught as an afternoon session.

Aims of the RSE Programme

The aims of Coláiste Oiriall’s RSE programme are:

  • To promote the development of healthy friendships and relationships.
  • To help students to understand and accept sexuality.
  • To promote a positive attitude to one’s own sexuality and the sexuality of others.
  • To promote knowledge of and respect for reproduction.
  • To develop self-esteem and self-confidence in relationships.
  • To help students make informed decisions in relation to their own sexuality.

Well Being

Wellbeing is about young people feeling confident, happy, healthy and connected. Wellbeing is one of the principles that underpins junior cycle education. It is reflected in a number of the statements of learning. SHPE is incorporated in Wellbeing and SPHE covers RSE. Students also engage with learning related to Wellbeing through the school culture and students’ experience of the implementation of related whole-school policies such as this policy.

Current Provisions

In its broadest sense, RSE is a whole-school responsibility and all members of this community share responsibility for modelling relationships that are characterised by justice and respect. At a more formal level, RSE is dealt with in the context of certain subjects; Science, Home Economics, C.S.P.E., Religion, and population demographics/social studies within the Geography syllabus. However, to ensure an adequate response to the needs of all students, specific provision for RSE is made within the Social, Personal and Health Education programme, to which one class period is apportioned each week for junior cycle students. The content of RSE at post-primary level is described under three themes: 

  • Human growth and development: This theme consists of an age appropriate understanding of the biology and psychology of the human life cycle. This is accompanied by a rationale for responsible behaviour in relationships and sexuality activity.
  • Human Sexuality: Sexuality is an integral part of the human personality and has biological, psychological, cultural, social and spiritual dimensions. The theme offers opportunities to develop a holistic understanding of sexuality as contributing to the development of personal well being, enhancing personal and family relationships and ultimately contributing to the well being of society.
  • Human Relationships: This theme focuses on the importance of relationships for health and well-being. It examines how one relates to self and others, stressing the importance of self-esteem as a basis for worthwhile friendships and relationships. It addresses issues such as communication, influence, intimacy, sexual attraction and sexual expression in relationships consistent with personal and moral integrity.  These themes are neither sequential nor discrete; they merge and overlap with each other. Teaching strategies should reflect this relationship.  There are no specified class periods for SPHE at senior cycle but through an afternoon session RSE topics are addressed.


Junior Cycle: Communication, Feelings and emotions, self-respect, growth and development, puberty, sexual language, sexuality, relationships with family, friendships, romantic relationships, gender roles and pressures, personal safety, making responsible decisions, fertility and conception, teenage pregnancy

Senior Cycle: Boundaries, Assertive Communication, Feelings and Emotions, Self-respect, Reproduction, Human Fertility, Sexual Orientation, Unplanned Pregnancy, Contraception, Sexually Transmitted Infections, Healthy Relationships, Responsible Relationships

Guidelines for the management and organisation of RSE

  1. Arrangements:

Arrangements regarding the teaching of the programme and the deployment of staff will be made by the principal. 

  1. Informing and involving parents:

Parents are the primary educators of their children and their role in education concerning relationships and sexuality is seen by Coláiste Oiriall as very important. Relevant sections of the RSE policy will be included in the school’s Information for Parents section on the school website. A letter is also distributed to parents of Junior Cycle students with the Christmas report, detailing the course and their right to withdraw their son / daughter. Senior cycle parents are informed by letter later in the year.

 3.      Offering advice:

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 behavior and contraception; however sources of professional information and advice will be identified when appropriate. Teachers may provide students 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 be in keeping with the school ethos and should be appropriate to the age of the student. 

  1. Explicit Questions:

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. 

  1. Confidentiality:

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 Designated Liaison Person (DLP). The DLP 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 confidentiality
  • Students 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 student to notify parents.
  • Teachers must use their professional judgment to decide whether confidentiality can be maintained having heard the information.
  • Teachers must indicate clearly to students when the content of a conversation can no longer be kept confidential – the student can then decide whether to proceed or not
  • The Child Protection Guidelines for Post Primary schools state in paragraph 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 DLP. 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.and in paragraph 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. 

6.      The division between biological and non-biological aspects of sex education:

The Science Department deals primarily with the biological aspects of reproduction but within the teaching of RSE biological terms will be used and there may be a cross-over of content within both areas. This may provide an opportunity for cross-curricular co-operation and team teaching.

7.      Using visiting speakers and other non-teacher staff

  • It is school policy that most of the RSE programme is best discussed openly with teachers who are known and trusted by the students. 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 this 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. Any visitor attending the school will be accompanied by a teaching staff member at all times.
  • 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 students 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
  • A written acknowledgement of their contribution should be sent to the visitor and could appear in the school newsletter. 

8.      Sensitive Issues

Teachers in Coláiste Oiriall do not promote any one lifestyle or sexuality as the only acceptable one for society and therefore it is inevitable that homosexuality will be discussed during a programme of sex education. One of the many advantages of exploring issues concerning homosexuality is the opportunity to correct false ideas, assumptions and address prejudice. Discussion of homosexuality, abortion and contraception should be appropriate to the age of the students.  Where discussed, it will be in an open and understanding manner, looking at all sides of the issues. 

9.  Special Needs

Children with special needs may require more help than others in coping with the physical and emotional aspects of growing up: they may also require more help in learning what sorts of behaviour are and are not acceptable, and in being warned and prepared against abuse by others.  It is school policy that any student, who receives Learning Support or Resource normally during the SPHE class, attends the SPHE class during the delivery of RSE.


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 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.

Coláiste Oiriall 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.


  • Resources needed in terms of time, finance and personnel, will be made available to develop and support the RSE programme in the school.
  • RSE is being successfully taught through SPHE for all students
  • Where SPHE may not be timetabled, e.g. at Senior Cycle, that these students are receiving RSE
  • Resource materials are available to teacher
  • Appropriate in-service for teachers is available and relevant teachers are availing of it
  • Staff are aware of the policy
  • Students are aware of the policy
  • Parents/guardians are aware of the policy
  • Feedback is received from teachers, other school staff, students, parents/guardians, members of board of management.

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Cnoc an Chonnaidh, Muineachán, H18 W897  +353-(0) 47 72344