SPHE and Stay Safe Policy

Social, Personal and Health Education (SPHE) Policy


Introductory Statement and Rationale

This plan was formulated by the teaching staff of Ballyshannon National School.  As teachers, we acknowledge the importance of S.P.H.E. in our school. This policy reflects that view and has been drawn up to benefit teaching and learning in our school, to conform to principles of learning outlined in the Primary School Curriculum and  to review S.P.H.E. instruction in the school .


We seek to foster the personal development, health and well-being of the individual child and to prepare pupils to contribute and play a meaningful role in their communities


 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

 This SPHE plan will be addressed under the following headings

Curriculum planning

    1. Strands and strand units

    2. Contexts for SPHE

    3. Approaches and methodologies

    4. Assessment

    5. Children with different needs

    6. Equality of participation and access 

Organisational planning

    7. Policies and programmes that support SPHE

    7.1 Policies/Programmes

    7.2 Substance Use Policy & Walk Tall Programme

    7.3 Relationships and Sexuality Education Policy  & R.S.E. Programme

    7.4 Child Protection Policy & Stay Safe Programme

    8. Homework

    9. Resources

    9.1 Programmes and other materials

    9.2 Guest speakers

    10. Individual teachers’ planning and reporting

    11. Staff development    

    12. Parental involvement

    13. Community links

1. Strands and Strand Units

§  Active learning is the principal teaching and learning approach adopted for SPHE. The SPHE programme reflects a spiral approach, where similar aspects are revisited in different ways according to the age, stage of development and readiness of the child. SPHE is intrinsic to the learning and teaching that occurs both formally and informally in the school and in the classroom.

         §  SPHE will be planned in such a way that the child will receive a comprehensive programme in SPHE over a two year period. Some strand units should be chosen from each of the strands             in any one year. The strand units not covered in year one will be included in the teacher’s planning for the following year.

         §  Teachers are familiar with the content objectives for their own class

 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

Positive School Climate and Atmosphere

Teachers in this school will endeavour to create a positive school climate and atmosphere by:

§  Building effective communication within the school

§  Catering for individual needs of the children

§  Creating a health-promoting physical environment

§  Developing democratic processes

§  Enhancing self-esteem

§  Fostering respect for diversity

§  Fostering inclusive and respectful language

§  Developing appropriate communication between home and school

Discrete Time

§  This time will be used to develop and practise particular skills, deal with sensitive issues or explore issues that are not addressed in other areas of the curriculum.

§  Timetabled ½ hour per week

§  Lessons will be timetabled by each individual teacher.

§  Discretionary time will be used for SPHE as required

         §  Teachers will ensure that pupils who are withdrawn for supplementary teaching will be included for as much of the SPHE programme as possible.


§  At each class level, teachers will seek to integrate SPHE with other curricular areas.

         §  Content objectives will be addressed through meaningful integration with other subjects

         §  Integration will be reflected in the teacher’s planning.

  3.  Approaches and Methodologies

Active learning is a key principle of the overall curriculum and is the principal learning and teaching approach recommended for SPHE. The more the child is directly engaged in the learning process, cognitively, physically, emotionally and creatively, the more he or she is enabled to internalise what is learned.

The following active learning strategies will be promoted in the school

§  Drama activities

§  Co-operative games

§  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 …

 A broad range of approaches and methodologies are suggested in the curriculum guidelines to realise the aim of involving children in their own learning. These approaches and methodologies will also be used for S.P.H.E.

§  Talk and discussion

§  Skills through content

§  Collaborative learning

§  Problem-solving

§  Use of the environment

4. Assessment

§  Teachers will assess informally throughout the school year, and formally at the end of each school year.

         §  Assessment tools will be used as follows:

§  Teacher observation

§  Teacher-designed tasks

§  Work samples, portfolios, projects

         §  Teachers will share information with each other, with parents, with children, with other professionals either informally, or formally through a written report at the end of the school year.

         §  Assessment information will be reported to parents at the Parent-Teacher Meeting, in the end-of-year report, and on other occasions, if necessary.

         §  Records will be kept by individual teachers and transferred to individual files at the end of the school year.

§  Records will be kept for ten years from the child leaves the school.

 5. Children with Different Needs

§  Teachers  will support and ensure the participation of children with special needs

§  All children  will be enabled to make an important contribution regardless of academic achievement

 6. Equality of Participation and Access

§  Equal opportunities will be given to boys and girls to participate in classes/activities

§  Boys and girls will have equal access to and opportunities to experience all strands

§  All children have access to services, facilities, or amenities in the school environment

 7. Policies and Programmes that Support SPHE

 7.1 Policies/Programmes

§  SPHE links with school policies/programmes:

Policies: Substance Use, RSE, Child Protection, Enrolment, Code of Behaviour, Anti Bullying, Health and Safety Statement, Healthy Eating,

Programmes: Walk Tall Programme, Stay Safe Programme, R.S.E. Programme.




To teach children personal safety skills so they can look after themselves in situations this could be upsetting or dangerous.



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:

·          To distinguish between safe and unsafe feelings

·          What to do if lost

·          What to do if the phone or doorbell rings when they are alone in the house

·          The importance of friends in children’s lives

·          What to do if bullied

·          Stay Safe Rules: Say No/ Get Away/ Tell

·          Why not to bully others

·          Appreciating normal, appropriate touches

·          That unsafe touches should never be kept secret

·          How to respond to inappropriate touches (Stay Safe Rules)

·          Good and bad secrets

·          That some secrets should not be kept

·          Who and how to tell if in trouble

·          About strangers and safety strategies


Request for withdrawal by parent of pupil or teacher:

If parents are concerned about the more sensitive aspects of the RSE or Stay Safe programmes, they are welcome to visit the school to examine the content of the programmes and discuss their concerns with the principal. Following this meeting if parents wish to have their child/ren withdrawn when sensitive issues are being taught, they are requested to submit this in writing to the Principal. Parents will be expected to make their wishes know each year to the new class teacher. Efforts will be made by the school, using the resources it has, to accommodate these children by providing supervision within another classroom. Teachers cannot be held responsible for language used necessarily in school life or by children.


A teacher who is concerned about teaching a particular topic within the RSE or Stay Safe programme should talk to the principal about his/her concerns. Such concerns will be handled discreetly. The BOM will endeavour to accommodate such teachers. Resources outside the school profession will be availed of if considered appropriate.



Teachers will decide the timetabling of RSE/Stay Safe lessons and a letter will be sent to parents prior to the commencement of these lessons (APPENDIX A). If there is no request for the withdrawal of a child from this work the lessons should be spread through the term/s rather than taught within a concentrated timeframe. This allows the children the time to absorb the values within which this knowledge is presented.


Child Protection:

The school follows the DES Child Protection Guidelines and Procedures, which are based on Children First, national Guidelines for the Protection and Welfare of Children. The principal is the designated liaison person (DLP). Each teacher has a copy of our policy on Child Protection and a copy is available to parents, through the secretary, if they request one.



A comprehensive selection of resources is available for teaching all strand units including Walk Tall, Stay Safe programme, Relationships and Sexuality (DES), Circle Time. Materials purchased with school funds remain the property of the school.



Suitable videos are stored in the teachers’ staff room. They are listed under subject headings. Teachers should not use videos/DVDs or TV programmes for SPHE without consulting the principal.          

Parental involvement

SPHE is a shared responsibility between family and school.

·         Copies of the school plan for SPHE are available from the office

·         Parents will be made aware of content objectives that deal with ‘sensitive’ issues before teachers cover these in class and will be asked to discuss these issues with their child prior to the lessons in school (Appendix A).


Community links

The school will liaise with the Health Promotion Unit of the Health Board and other agencies to assist, as appropriate, the school’s programme for SPHE.

Appendix A


Dear Parents,


We are planning to teach the Stay Safe Programme and Relationships and Sexuality Programme to all classes over the next two school terms, as part of the subject Social Personal and Health Education (SPHE). All teachers on staff have attended in-service training on delivering the SPHE curriculum to primary school children and are fully qualified to do so. You, the parents are the primary educators of your children. Ideally, Relationships and sexuality should be addressed by parents, in the home, as they see fit. Sometimes, for different reasons, children do not get this information at home. At this stage of the year teachers know the children in their classes; know their sensitivities and make every effort to cater for their different needs. It is best that this is taught naturally and appropriately within the school day, taking into consideration the age of the children. We would appreciate it if you would cover these topics as listed below and overleaf, with your children over the next few weeks. If you wish to discuss about this programme I will be happy to meet with you. A copy of our SPHE policy is available from the secretary.  The following objectives cover the ‘sensitive’ areas in the RSE and Stay Safe programmes.



 Strand unit: Taking care of my body

Knowing about my body (10 minute lesson approx.)

·          Name parts of the male and female body, using appropriate anatomical terms

Strand unit: Safety and protection

Personal Safety

·          Identify situations and places that are safe and those where personal safety might be at risk.




 Strand unit: Taking care of my body

Knowing about my body

·          Realise the importance of caring for and treating his/her own body, and that of others, with dignity and respect

Strand unit: Growing and changing

Birth and new life (40 minutes approx.)

·          Discuss the stages and sequence of development of the human baby, from conception to birth.

Strand unit: Safety and protection

Personal Safety

·          Identify people, places and situations that may threaten personal safety.




(3 hours approximately)

Strand unit: Taking care of my body

Knowing about my body

·          Recognise the importance of treating his/her body and others with dignity and respect

·          Identify and discuss the physical and other changes that occur in boys and girls with the onset of puberty and understand that these take place at different rates for everyone

·          Understand the reproductive system of both male and female adults

·          Become aware of some communicable diseases and explore how diseases and infections spread.


Strand unit: Growing and changing

As I grow I change

·          Explore patterns of development and growth, comparing present development with that of earlier stages: physical, social, emotional, intellectual and spiritual

Birth and new life

·          Understand sexual intercourse, conception and birth within the context of marriage involving a committed, loving relationship.

·          Discuss and explore the responsibilities involved in being a parent and the emotional and physical maturity required to be a parent


Strand unit: Safety and protection

Personal Safety

·          Identify situations and places that may threaten personal safety.


All parents should discuss these topics with their child prior to class discussion. If you have any questions or concerns about the programmes please do not hesitate to contact me or your child’s class teacher.