Introductory Statement; The SPHE Policy was reviewed in 2020.
- To guide teachers in adopting a consistent and coherent approach to teaching SPHE in our school
- To assist them in their individual planning
- To ensure appropriate coverage of all aspects of the SPHE programme from Infants to Sixth Class
Vision; 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 thus preparing them to play a meaningful role in their communities.
The aims of social, personal and health education are
- 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.
When due account is taken of intrinsic abilities and varying circumstances, the SPHE curriculum should enable the child to:
- be self-confident and have a positive sense of self-esteem
- develop a sense of personal responsibility and come to understand his/her sexuality and the processes of growth, development and reproduction
- develop and enhance the social skills of communication, co-operation and conflict resolution
- create and maintain supportive relationships both now and in the future
- develop an understanding of healthy living, an ability to implement healthy behaviour and a willingness to participate in activities that promote and sustain health
- develop a sense of safety and an ability to protect himself/herself from danger and abuse
- make decisions, solve problems and take appropriate actions in various personal, social and health contexts
- become aware of, and discerning about, the various influences on choices and decisions
- begin to identify, review and evaluate the values and attitudes that are held by individuals and society and to recognise that these affect thoughts and actions
- respect the environment and develop a sense of responsibility for its long-term care
- develop some of the skills and abilities necessary for participating fully in groups and in society
- become aware of some of the individual and community rights and responsibilities that come from living in a democracy
- begin to understand the concepts of personal, local, national, European and global identity
- appreciate and respect the diversity that exists in society and the positive contributions of various cultural, religious and social groups
- Promote the values of a just and caring society in an age-appropriate manner and understand the importance of seeking truth and peace.
The SPHE curriculum is spiral in nature and all content will be delivered developmentally throughout the child's time in the primary school.
In planning for teaching SPHE, we will ensure that over a 2 year period children will study elements from all the strand units.
Strands and strand units
Junior Infants, 1st, 3rd and 5th will cover the strand units of Self Identity (Sept/Oct), Myself and My Family (Nov/Dec), Safety and Protection and Stay Safe (Jan/Feb), Making Decisions 3rd and 5th. (JI and 1st complete Safety Issues section of Safety and Protection) (March/April) and Developing Citizenship (May/June).
Senior Infants, 2nd, 4th and 6th will cover the strand units of My Friends and Other People (Sept/Oct), Relating to Others (Nov/Dec), Growing and Changing and Stay Safe (Jan/Feb), Taking Care of My Body (March/April) and Media Education (May/June).
Stay Safe is a mandatory programme which is taught under the strand Safety and Protection. It has been decided by staff that due to the importance of the Stay Safe Programme that it be taught every year.
The sensitive objectives of RSE fall within the strands Growing and Changing and Taking Care of my Body. These sensitive lessons must be taught.
The Weaving Wellbeing Programme will be taught under the strand units taught from Sept to Dec starting with 2nd class in 2020/2021, 2nd and 3rd in 2021/2022 and so on until it is being taught in all classes from 2nd to 6th. Teachers are free to, and encouraged to, use the programme resources with their classes before the mandatory roll out.
The importance of educating children about internet safety is recognised and is taught yearly with special emphasis on Safer Internet day.
Contexts for SPHE
SPHE will be taught through a combination of contexts
- Positive school climate and atmosphere
- Discrete time
- Integration with other subject areas
- Designated school wide weeks/days eg Healthy Eating Week (3rd week in Sept), Friendship week (1st week in Oct), Safer Internet Day (Feb), Wellbeing days (Mon to Wed before spring midterm break), Multi-cultural events March/ April before Easter holidays.
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/guardians we strive to identify and meet individual needs. Individualised reading schemes, Literacy lift off, Reading Recovery, differentiated learning in the classrooms, EBD classrooms for children with behavioural and emotional difficulties are some of the ways we do this.
- The staff is aware that their role in helping children to develop their self-esteem is to create a positive environment within the school where everyone feels they belong and that they matter. This is done by treating each other with respect, greeting children in the morning, encouraging and praising them in their endeavours, displaying their work, positive re-enforcement, celebrating their birthday, honouring their out of school achievements eg boxing, swimming, drama, dancing etc. as well as in school achievements.
- We actively value diversity and celebrate different cultures. Multi-cultural activities are held annually before Easter.
cf Intercultural Education.
- We 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. Children are addressed by their first name, there is zero tolerance of racist/homophobic/sexist offensive language, and children are praised, encouraged and affirmed.
- We work to develop an effective communication system between school and home. Facebook, a monthly newsletter, use of school journals, text messages and notes are important in this, as well as formal and informal parent/teacher meetings. Junior Infant parents are invited in to meet the teachers and have a cup of tea and a chat in early Sept. Children are supervised in another classroom.
- We support a health-promoting physical environment. Emphasis is placed on healthy lifestyle. P.E., The Daily Mile, Go Noodle, and active homework. Active after-school’s activities are encouraged as well as activities at playtime.
- A Healthy Eating Week takes place at the beginning of each school year. Emphasis is placed on ensuring the children and parents are aware of what is acceptable in a healthy school lunch and kick starting healthy eating for the school year. A simplified version of the Healthy Eating Policy is included in the school diary. Parents and children are reminded of our healthy eating policy at the beginning of each term.
cf Healthy Eating policy.
- Taking responsibility and pride in the school environment is encouraged through the children being actively involved in maintaining clean classrooms, our litter prevention programme, our involvement in the Green Schools Programme and through the promotion of behavioural habits required for maintaining a clean environment. cf Our Green School Programme
There is a zero tolerance of bullying and children and parents are encouraged to report any bullying issues to the class teacher who will deal with it as a matter of priority.
Classes are surveyed regularly to help uncover any issues in class. cf Anti-Bullying Policy
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.
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:
- Drama activities
- Co-operative games
- Use of pictures, photographs 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
- Looking at children’s work: portfolios, projects …
- Circle Time
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 informal interactions between the child and adults and between the child and other children.
- Emotional maturity
- The quality of presentation of work
- 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. As a number of our children have experienced bereavement, trauma or neglect, they are supported, and consideration is given to meeting their individual needs in the most appropriate manner.
cf Children with Disabilities in Plean scoile
Equality of participation and access
All children have equal access to services, facilities and amenities within the school.
- As a co-ed school we are conscious of the need to give equal opportunities to boys and girls to participate in discussion, debate and presentation.
- We recognise the diverse nature of our school community which is comprised of many nationalities and we are sensitive to different social and religious backgrounds of the children.
- We are also sensitive to the fact that our children are coming from a variety of family situations which may include families with a single parent, separated parents, same sex parents, a gay parent, a parent in prison, blended families, or they may they be living with carers or non-parent family members.
- We recognise that our older children may be becoming aware that they are LBGT+ and we are sensitive to protect their self-esteem.
- We identify provision required, when necessary, for children who may be experiencing any kind of disadvantage.
cf Equality of Access and Participation Policy
Policies and Programmes that support SPHE
The Relationships and Sexuality Education programme (RSE), the Stay Safe programme, the Walk Tall programme and the Weaving Well-Being programme are integral parts of SPHE and are taught as such.
- An outline of the RSE programme will be given to parents when their child enrols in the CBS under the heading SPHE. The parents can request, in writing, that their child be withdrawn or express concerns and request an opportunity to discuss them with the teacher. A copy of this letter will be kept in the child's file as it will be necessary to contact the parents who expressed concerns, each year.
- Provision will be made where necessary for parents who wish to withdraw their child from class on the understanding that the parent is taking full responsibility for this aspect of their education.
- Teachers will teach only the topics laid down for the class and will respond only to those questions on the programme for that year. If a child asks for information that is not in line with the curriculum content he/she will be encouraged to ask these questions at home. The guiding principles at all times for the teacher being the school ethos and the age and stage appropriateness of the pupils.
- The school will endeavour to accommodate the request of any teacher who does not wish to teach a particular topic.
- Teachers will not answer personal questions about themselves nor require the child to give information of a personal nature which they do not wish to share.
- Weaving Well-Being is being taught in 2nd class (2019/2020). It will be taught in 2nd and 3rd in 2020/2021 and so on until all classes 2nd to 3rd are teaching the programme.
SPHE links to the following policies: RSE, Substance Use, Child Protection, Code of Behaviour, Anti- Bullying, Healthy Eating, Health and Safety and our Green School Policy. Teachers are expected to be familiar with them and ensure that they are followed when addressing these issues.
The SPHE homework reflects the active learning approach as described in the curriculum and acts as a link between home and school.
Each class teacher has a Walk Tall manual, a Stay Safe manual, a RSE manual (SI, 2nd, 4th and 6th), a set of 3 conflict resolution posters and a food pyramid poster. 1st class teachers share ‘Zippy’s Friends’ resources, 2nd to 6th share ‘Weaving Wellbeing’ resources and each SET room has a Weaving Wellbeing pupil workbook,
6th class have copies of Healthy Bodies for each child.
The Incredible Years and other books promoting positive behaviour, behaviour management, well-being etc are also available in the school.
Websites such as Webwise, Safefood and HI are also recommended.
An Acceptable Usage policy is in place to ensure children's safety when using the internet.
Guest Speakers: The community garda is available to talk about all aspects of safety, bullying and his/her work as a Garda etc. Other speakers may include the Community Nurse, Green School spokesperson and speaker on Internet Safety. The class teacher remains with the class at all times during these visits.
Individual Teachers’ Planning and Reporting
Each class teacher is furnished with a summary of SPHE content for their class and a timetable of when topics are covered over the year.
- All teachers are trained in Child Protection
- Teachers are notified of courses related to the teaching of SPHE. Time is allowed at staff meetings to share skills/information acquired.
- Speakers are invited to speak to staff about SPHE related matters e.g. Behavioural Issues (NEPS), Internet Safety (Maureen Griffin), The Anti-bullying Campaign (Sean Fallon) and Staff Wellbeing (PDST).
The involvement of parents/guardians is seen as crucial and reflects the ethos of the school.
- They are involved in the Parents Council, decorating the foyers in the school and managing the library system.
- Parents/guardians may be involved in escorting children to and from the swimming pool in junior classes.
- They support our Healthy Eating policy by following guidelines for healthy lunches and are active during Healthy Eating Week.
- cultures are involved in our Multicultural Parents/guardians from different activities,
- Parents/guardians are made aware of sensitive areas covered in the SPHE programme and are given an opportunity to withdraw their children for these lessons or to discuss concerns with the class teacher.
- Parents/guardians are also notified when SPHE programmes are beginning and home/school links are maintained eg Stay Safe, Zippy’s Friends, RSE, Weaving Well-Being.
- Parents/grandparents are invited to a ‘Celebration of Grandparents Ceremony’ each year.
- Parents/guardians are invited to school concerts and End of Year Celebrations.
Visits from our community guard and our Parish Priest contribute to the teaching of SPHE. The school liaises with the Health Promotion unit of the HSE, Webwise and other agencies to assist, where appropriate, the school's implementation of SPHE.
Local businesses support our Healthy Eating week by supplying food.
Assessment by teachers and staff.
Is there an observable reduction in conflict situations, use of offensive language, bullying behaviour etc. among the students?
Children may be surveyed at the end of Weaving Wellbeing Programme to see what skills they have learnt that they feel will help them in their life.
Children’s lunches will be surveyed at intervals to see if there is an improvement in healthy eating.
Roles and responsibilities
It is the responsibility of all staff to read and become familiar with both the policy and their individual role in implementing it regardless of their role as a class or SEN teacher, as delivery of the SPHE policy in particular lends itself to being delivered by both groups of staff.
The SPHE co-ordinator will co-ordinate the progress of the plan, encourage and accept feedback and report to staff on findings.
This plan was reviewed in 2020 and should be implemented in 2020/2021 school year.
This plan will be reviewed again in 2023. Questionnaires to teachers and possibly to students in senior classes and parents will be used in this review. Feedback is welcome at any time to the SPHE coordinator.
This school plan was formulated by the principal and staff and approved by the Board of management of Scoil Mhuire na mBraithre on ________________2020.
Chairperson of the Board of Management