SPHE Policy - Scoil Naomh Áine, Rathgarogue

Scoil Naomh Áine
Go to content

SPHE Policy

Plans and Policies

Social Personal and Health Education Plan (SPHE)

Introductory Statement and Rationale

(a) Introductory Statement
The staff of Scoil Naomh Áine formulated this plan originally in 2003 following whole school in-service. Further reviews took place in 2010, 2012 and 2016prior to this current review in 2020. SPHE is a lifelong process and as such begins before the child comes to school. In this school we will provide a foundation that will inform the child’s actions and decisions and provide a basis for further development.

(b) 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.

Vision and Aims
(a) Vision
In line with our school ethos, Social, Personal and Health Education will provide opportunities for the individual child to develop a framework of values, attitudes, understanding and skills that will inform her / his decisions and actions now and in the future –enabling her/him to respect and relate to him/herself and others and become an active and responsible citizen in society.

(b) Aims
We endorse the aims of the Primary School Curriculum for SPHE:
● To promote the personal development and well-being of the child
● To foster in the child a sense of care and respect for himself/herself and others and an appreciation of the dignity of every human being
● To promote the health of the child and provide a foundation for healthy living in all its aspects
● To enable the child to make informed decisions and choices about the social, personal and health dimensions of life both now and in the future
● To develop in the child a sense of social responsibility, a commitment to active and participative citizenship and an appreciation of the democratic way of life
● To enable the child to respect human and cultural diversity and to appreciate and understand the interdependent nature of the world
In partnership with the home our aims are:
● To provide opportunities for our pupils to learn about relationships and sexuality, imparted in a caring way, within a safe 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 Relationships and Sexuality Education (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.

Curriculum Planning

1. Strands and Strand Units
Since SPHE is spiral in nature we will cover the following content at each level throughout the school over a two year period. Please refer to Appendix 1 for a breakdown of the content for each individual class level.

2. Contexts for SPHE
SPHE will be taught through a combination of contexts
● Positive school climate and atmosphere
● Discrete time
● Integration with other subject areas

All our 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 - social, emotional, spiritual, physical or intellectual. Through assessment, observation and parental contact, 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 are 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.

In order to achieve a positive school climate and atmosphere we adopt strategies such as:
✔ building effective communication within the school
✔ catering for individual needs
✔ enhancing self-esteem
✔ fostering respect for diversity
✔ Friends for Life (3rd and 5th class programme)
✔ Zippy’s Friends (1st Class)
✔ Friendship week
✔ Cairde programme (link between Junior Infants and 6th class)
✔ fostering inclusive and respectful language
✔ acknowledging that children respect others more readily when respect is shown to them
✔ developing appropriate communication between home and school
✔ developing a school approach to assessment
✔ creating and supporting a health-promoting physical environment. Emphasis on healthy lunches, healthy lifestyle, farm, road and water safety, and regular fire drills are some of the areas promoted.
✔ taking responsibility and pride in the school environment 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.
✔ promoting democratic processes in all levels of school life while balancing roles, rights and responsibilities. Children experience and practice the democratic process by:
● Negotiating the class rules at the start of the year
● Participating in the Student council and Creative Schools Programme
● Sharing responsibility
● Valuing the opinion of others
● Experiencing a sense of belonging to their own class group and the wider school community
● Developing a sense of commitment to common goals.

Using the curriculum strands and strand units we strive to create a positive school climate with the children as outlined below:
Strategies for developing a positive school climate                                                                              Strand Units
Enhancing self esteem                                                                                 Self Identity
Catering for individual needs                                                                                                                                         Taking Care of My Body
Respect for Diversity                                                                                   Growing & Changing
Health Promoting Physical Environment                                                         Safety & Protection
Developing Democratic Processes                                                                 Making Decisions
Building Effective Communication                                                                 Myself & my Family,
                                                                                                               My Friends & otherPeople
Home School Links                                                                                     Relating to others
Inclusive & Respectful Language                                                                  Developing Citizenship
School Approach to Assessment                                                                   Media Education

Many aspects of SPHE can be dealt with in a cross-curricular manner, while other aspects will benefit from the discrete time available on the timetable. In planning it will be crucial for the teacher to decide how these two approaches can be used effectively to implement the curriculum. He/she will need to identify aspects of the programme that could be integrated in a meaningful way with work in other areas, decide on how such aspects could be treated, and arrange the timetable in such a way as to accommodate any integrated learning and teaching.
Similarly, the teacher will need to identify the aspects of the programme that will require discrete time and find the resources and materials needed to meet these needs. In planning for both approaches the teacher will have to ensure that:
● The SPHE programme is comprehensively covered for all children
● The integrity of individual subjects is not compromised
● The discrete time is used as effectively as possible
● Integration is meaningful.

Discrete time
SPHE may be timetabled for ½ hour per week; an hour per fortnight or blocks of 1 – 2 hours per month where appropriate.
The discrete time is used
(a) to develop and practise particular skills,
(b) deal with sensitive issues
(c) explore issues that are not addressed in other areas of the curriculum.

At each class level, teachers should seek to integrate SPHE with other curricular areas. Integration can take place in various ways: teachers can adopt a thematic approach, where a theme is explored from a number of different perspectives, or integration can be subject based, where for example an SPHE issue is the main focus of the exploration and skills or information from another subject are used to enhance the learning. Integrating learning processes is also an effective way of implementing SPHE across the curriculum, where, for example strategies to foster self-confidence, independence, positive attitudes or critical reflection are used in a variety of subjects.

Some of the opportunities to integrate SPHE throughout the curriculum are identified below:
● Language: using language precisely; acquiring appropriate vocabulary; developing communication skills; learning how to question, to predict, to be critical and to analyse; developing one’s imagination and exploring emotions and feelings through the spoken and written word; examining the print media
● History: developing empathy; exploring changing influences on our lives; learning about the factors that shape the community; exploring the various contributions of different groups to society; exploring myself and my family
● Science: exploring: the way the body works, the constituents of different foods, the process of physical growth and development; learning to care for the environment
● Geography: developing a sense of place: exploring local and national issues; developing an appreciation of different national, religious and cultural groups: learning to care for the environment
● Mathematics: interpreting and representing data; measuring and estimating; comparing and recording; solving problems
● Visual arts: creating and exploring images and pictures; expressing ideas, feelings and experiences in visual form; looking at and enjoying images in the environment
● Physical education: choosing teams and playing games in a fair manner; understanding physical exercise as necessary for overall health and wellbeing; developing individual skills and talents; developing self-esteem and self-confidence; providing opportunities for co-operation and interaction; appreciating the importance of safety and learning how to act safely
● Music: using music to explore moods and feelings; understanding the role of music in our heritage; exploring music as a form of universal communication; developing self-expression and a sense of well-being through music; making decisions; taking individual and group responsibility through composing
● Drama: using drama: to recognise and manage feelings, to learn to trust and respect others in a group, to experience open and healthy relationships, to foster respect for differences in people, and to help the child understand and moderate his/her temperament.

3. Approaches and Methodologies
Teachers know that active learning is the principle learning and teaching approach used in the SPHE programme. The following approaches and methodologies are promoted for SPHE:
⮚ Drama activities
⮚ Co-operative games
⮚ Teacher modelling/in-role
⮚ Circle time
⮚ Pictures, photographs, presentations and visual images
⮚ Discussion: in pairs, small groups, with whole class
⮚ Written activities: surveys, questionnaires, lists, check-lists, projects, worksheets
⮚ Media Studies
⮚ Information and communication technologies
⮚ Skills through Content
⮚ Collaborative learning
⮚ Problem-solving
⮚ Use of the Environment
⮚ Looking at children’s work: portfolios, projects
⮚ Other strategies as devised by the class teacher

4. Assessment

(a)Children’s progress in SPHE is assessed mainly through teacher observation:
● The ability of the child to co-operate and work in groups or to work independently
● The ability of the child to develop and maintain friendships
● The informal interactions between the child and adults and between the child and other children
● Physical and emotional maturity
● The quality of presentation of work
● The participation and interest of the child in a variety of activities.

(b) Pupil assessment
● Questionnaires
● Work sheets and samples
● Project work

(c) Pupil self-assessment - reflecting on behaviours, relationships and personal development, SALF folders, 2 stars and a wish

5. Children with Different Needs

In keeping with the ethos of our school, each individual is helped to develop to his/her potential. This will be achieved by teachers varying the level and pace to suit individual needs and to ensure learning and success for every child. The work assigned to the children will be carried out at an appropriate pace within a specific time range. The requirements of children with special needs will be taken into consideration when planning lessons and activities. Children who experience significant change/trauma in their lives are supported. Consideration is given to supporting them in the most effective manner in consultation with their parents/guardians and teachers.

6. Equality of Participation and Access

All children in our school participate in SPHE and are given equal opportunities in class. Equal opportunities will be given to all children regardless of gender, ethnic background, and socio-economic status across all strands and activities. We view the SPHE programme as playing a key role in ensuring equality of opportunities for all children.

7. Policies and programmes that support SPHE

7. 1 The following policies related to SPHE issues have been drawn up in consultation with parents, the Board of Management and the school community:
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
● Enrolment
● Green Schools Programme
● Active Schools
● GAA 5 Star Programme
● Creative Schools
● Schools for Health in Europe

Teachers are expected to be familiar with these policies and programmes and ensure that the schools agreed policy is followed when addressing these issues.

7.2 Substance use policy
Refer to individual policy for details

7.3 Relationships and sexuality education (RSE)
Refer to individual policy for details

7.4 Stay Safe programme
In line with circular 65/11 Stay Safe will be taught in all classes.
To teach children personal safety skills so they can look after themselves on a day to day basis and in situations which could be upsetting or dangerous. The programme is taught each year for a block following the October midterm break.
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:
About Feelings: To recognise the importance of feelings; how to express them appropriately and in particular to recognise unsafe feelings
About Friendship: Making and keeping friends and the value of friendship
About Bullying: What bullying is; strategies for dealing with bullying behaviour, and that it is never acceptable to bully others
The importance of building confidence and self esteem
How to identify and deal with inappropriate or unsafe touch
That it is ok to say ‘no’ to an adult in a situation where they feel unsafe, threatened or frightened
To identify trusted adults whom they should tell if they are feeling frightened, threatened, worried or unsafe in any way
To understand how someone might bribe, trick or threaten them to keep a secret
It is never their fault if they are victimised or abused
That they should never go anywhere with or take anything from a stranger
Appropriate language for telling
The Stay Safe rules: Say No, Get Away and Tell Never keep secrets about touch. Never go anywhere with or take anything from a stranger

The importance of building confidence and self esteem and developing assertiveness and strong clear communication is emphasised throughout the programme. Children are taught that it is not their fault if they are bullied or abused.

7.5 Child protection
Refer to individual policy for details

8. Homework
On occasion homework may be given to support the topics being covered or during the implementation of specific programmes e.g. the Stay Safe programme and Friends for Life/Zippy’s Friends.

9. Resources
Teachers have access to an Interactive whiteboard where they can access a wide range of resources online. Each teacher can use the various stories/poetry at each class level as stimuli for SPHE. Many curricular topics can be used as a basis for SPHE. This is a list of the SPHE resources available in the school

SPHE Resources in Scoil Naomh Áine
SPHE Curriculum Documents
D.E.S. Relationships and Sexuality [4 books]
Stay Safe – Full Kit
“Walk Tall”
Making the Links
“Be Safe” [National Safety Council]
“Up and Away” Primary Health Education [N.W. Health Board]
Mind your selfie – mental health awareness
RSA –Road safety
HSA – Farm safety
Trocaire materials and resources
Friends for Life manuals and activity books
Zippy’s Friends
Report of the Advisory Group on Relationships and Sexuality Education [D.E.S.]
Children First - National Guidelines for the Protection and Welfare of Children 2017
Child Protection Procedures for Primary and Post-Primary Schools Circular 65/11
National Children’s Strategy “Our Children’s Lives”
Child Safeguarding Statement

Guest speakers
In June of each year an outside speaker talks to the sixth class pupils on the sexuality aspect of the RSE content for 5th and 6th class. Annually the local fire Service visit 4th class to speak on the topic of Fire Safety in the home. As the need arises, guest speakers may be invited to the school to speak about particular topics. The local Community Garda visits the school to speak with pupils on a variety of topics.

10. Individual Teacher’s Planning and Reporting
Long Term planning by teachers covers all strands and strand units. Each teacher plans on a fortnightly basis for SPHE where further detail of content will be outlined. Each teacher completes a Cuntas Míosuil using the standard school format. Teachers will adhere to the 2 year plan for SPHE and ensure that the Stay Safe programme is taught at the designated time of the year.

Other factors in planning SPHE in the classroom include
● Experience of the class so far. The work carried out in previous classes will have to be considered when drawing up a class programme
● Need to respond to changing social and environmental needs. The choice of topics will be influenced by the needs of the children; and where there is selection within strands, teachers can choose on the basis of current social and environmental needs
● A spiral approach to the programme. It will be essential to revisit the content in a planned and consistent manner to ensure that children explore issues appropriate to their age and stage of development
● Individual difference. In any one class there will be a broad range of abilities, interest levels and stages of maturity. The depth of exploration in the programme will have to take this diversity into account
● Finding a balance. In any programme that is developed for the class it will be essential that a balance is achieved between skill development, fostering of values and attitudes, and the acquisition of information
● The need to use a variety of approaches and methodologies. The use of a variety of active learning approaches will be essential to an effective SPHE programme. These are outlined in detail on p. 58-99.
● Incidents and events that may arise in the classroom. Many happenings and events that occur incidentally can provide opportunities for learning. Flexibility is required if issues of importance to the children are to be explored and given the time and attention they may need.

11. Staff Development

Staff needs will be assessed regularly and relevant organisations, local community groups and the Co. Wexford Education Centre will be accessed to provide ongoing training as the need arises. Details of courses relevant to SPHE will be displayed on the staff room notice board and staff will be encouraged to attend.
In order to successfully implement this plan some/all the teaching staff attended:
● two full days in-service seminars in 2002-4 by the Primary Curriculum Support Programme
● training in the Child Abuse Prevention Programme(Stay Safe)(2012)
● training in the Substance Misuse programme (Walk Tall)
● training in the Relationships & Sexuality programme (R.S.E.)(2015) and in Circle Time
● Friends for Life leaders Training (2017)
● Zippy’s Friends Training (2019)

12. Parental Involvement
SPHE is a shared responsibility between family and school. Parents/Guardians will be made aware of content objectives that deal with ‘sensitive’ RSE issues before teachers cover these in class and will be asked to discuss these issues with their child prior to the lessons in school. Parent/Guardian workshops on particular topics such as bullying will be organised as the need arises.

13. Community Links
The school will liaise with the Health Promotion Unit of the HSE, Wexford GAA,Gardaí and other agencies to assist, as appropriate, the school’s programme for SPHE.

Success Criteria
The success of this school plan will be assessed based on the following criteria:
● teacher’s preparation has been based on this plan.
● procedures outlined in this plan have been consistently followed.

The success of this plan in achieving the aims will be assessed by:
● Teacher feedback.
● Children and parental feedback.
● Inspector’s suggestions and reports.
● Board of management feedback.

(a) Roles and Responsibilities
This plan will be implemented by all teachers in Scoil Naomh Áine
(b) Timeframe
The plan will be implemented from the academic year 2016/2017.

(a) Roles and Responsibilities
This plan will be reviewed following ongoing consultation with all staff.
(b) Timeframe
This plan will be implemented from September 2020 and will be reviewed and updated by staff as the need arises. A formal review will take place in the 2024/2025 Academic year.

Ratified by the Board of Management on: 18.06.2020
Fr. Seán Devereux
Chairperson of Board of Management

Proud Owners of
Health Promoting School  Flag, Active School's Flag
Digital Schools of Distinction Award
Green flag for Waste, Green flag for Water, Green flag for Energy, Green flag for Marine Conservation
5 Star GAA Flag
Discovery Primary Science and Maths award of Excellence
Back to content