SPHE Policy

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Social, Personal and Health Education Whole School Plan



Introductory Statement and Rationale


 Introductory Statement:

S.N. Mhuire, Barntown is a Catholic co-educational primary school. Our school believes that SPHE is a shared responsibility and the support of parents is essential to the effective implementation of the SPHE programme in the school. This plan was formulated by the staff of the school in consultation with parents and the Board of Management in 2005/06 and reviewed in 2012. It was reviewed once again and amended in 2018.



In drawing up this SPHE plan the aim is to provide a practical framework to support the class teacher and ensure continuity and a common approach in teaching SPHE throughout the whole 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, Aims and Objectives



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 pupils in developing feelings of self-worth and self-confidence while encouraging their ability to relate to others in a positive way. Guided by our Christian values we endeavour to provide a positive, safe and welcoming atmosphere in our school in which all school members feel valued, cared for and reach their full potential.


Aims/ Objectives:

We endorse the aims and objectives of the SPHE curriculum. Over the course of the pupils’ eight year school life the following content objectives will be addressed-


  • Be confident and have a positive 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 him/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 society
  • Become aware 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.
  1. Content of Plan:


SPHE is planned so that pupils receive a comprehensive programme over a two year cycle


1.1. Curriculum:


  • The curriculum is delineated at four levels – infant classes, first and second classes, third and fourth classes, and fifth and sixth classes.
  • It is divided into three strands: Myself, Myself and Others, and Myself and the Wider World. Each of these strands is further subdivided into a number of strand units or topic areas that contain particular objectives.
  • Aspects of all three major strands will be taught each year and strand units will be chosen in such a way that the pupils will receive a comprehensive programme in SPHE over a two year period.


The school agreed this timetable to reflect this approach:


Strands Strand Units (Year 1)

(commencing in 2018/19 and thereafter each alternate year)


Strand Units ( Year 2)

( commencing in 2019/2020 and thereafter each alternate year)

September/October Self- Identity Myself and my family (Myself and others)
November / December Safety and protection (Myself) Relating to other (Myself and others)
January / February My Friends and other people (Myself and others Developing citizenship (Myself and the wider world)
March / April Making decisions (Myself) Taking care of my body (Myself)
May / June Media education (Myself and the wider world) Growing and Changing (Myself)

A copy of Making the Links, a practical guide to use the programmes supported by the Department of Education & Skills in the implementation of the SPHE programme has been be provided for each class teacher.


2 .Contexts for SPHE:


SPHE will be taught through a combination of the following three contexts:


 2.1. Creating a positive school climate and atmosphere


Positive school and class atmosphere is an important example to the child. At the first staff meeting of the year all members of the school community are reminded of the importance of promoting a positive school climate. These key messages dealing with school climate and atmosphere are reflected in all our policies


Our key messages are:

  • We aim to cater for the individual needs of the children. Individual needs may be social (different backgrounds, beliefs, understandings), emotional, physical or intellectual. Through assessment, observation and discussion with parents we strive to identify and meet individual needs.
  • We provide opportunities to enhance 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 .The five building blocks of self-esteem as outlined in the curriculum have been adopted as our approach to self- esteem development. They are :


  • a sense of identity,
  • a sense of belonging ,
  • a sense of security,
  • a sense of purpose
  • a sense of competence.
  • Creating a health-promoting physical environment. We take care in ensuring, through our Health and Safety policy, that the school environs in so far as is possible is safe and promote the health of each member of school community. Emphasis on healthy lunches, healthy lifestyle, road, water, farm safety and regular fire drills are some of the areas promoted. Taking responsibility and pride in our school environment is encouraged through our Green Schools programme, gardening, litter prevention and through constant review and promotion of behavior and habits required for maintaining a clean environment.


  • Developing democratic processes. Pupils experience and practice the democratic process in the following ways:


  • Class rules are discussed and negotiated at start of each school year.
  • Sense of belonging to own class and wider school community e.g. weekly assembly, representing the school in events, Healthy Eating week and Friendship week ( three times each year).
  • Sharing responsibility -elections to Student Council and Green School Committee.
  • Celebrating individual, class and school achievements- weekly assembly, class of the week, celebrating achievement on website, app through twitter and in newsletters.


  • We aim to actively value diversity and to prioritise inclusive and respectful language. The school will actively promote both racial and gender equality and respect for those with special needs. 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.
  • Developing appropriate communication between school and home through school website, newsletters, and parent teacher meetings.



2.2. Integration with other subject areas:


At each class level teachers should seek to integrate SPHE with other curricular areas. Many aspects of the SPHE can be dealt with in the context of English, Gaeilge, SESE, Visual Arts, and Drama. Teachers identify the objectives that can be acquired through cross- curricular work. In order to ensure that these are being adequately covered, teachers will make specific provision in their short term planning and will use the cuntas miosúil as a form of self -assessment for these and other objectives.


2.3. Planning SPHE in the curriculum through discrete time


SPHE may be timetabled for half an 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. This discrete time is used to develop and practice particular skills, deal with sensitive issues and in particular to teach the Stay Safe, RSE and Walk Tall programmes.



  1. Approaches and Methodologies:


The approaches and methodologies used in teaching SPHE are crucial to its success. Active or participative learning is the principal learning and teaching approach recommended for SPHE, therefore we will endeavour to teach SPHE using a variety of strategies which include:


Brainstorming                         Rounds

Drama incl. role play &          Circle Time

Conscience alley                     Debate

Artwork/Games/Icebreakers   Reflection

Group work                             Using Photographs

Visitors                                    Surveys

Pairs                                        Questionnaires

Projects                                    Discussion


The class teacher will select methodologies based upon the needs and abilities of their group and appropriate to the content.


These activities enable the pupil to acquire information, explore viewpoints and opinions, to develop attitudes and develop new skills.





4 .Assessment:

Assessment is a central part of the everyday learning and teaching process in SPHE. It can provide valuable information on the child’s learning progress and on the effectiveness and suitability of the programme and the teaching methods being used.

Teachers will select from the following assessment tools in SPHE:



  1. a) Teacher observation
  • The ability of pupils to co-operate and work in groups or to work independently.
  • The information interaction between adults and pupils and pupils and pupils.
  • The quality of presentation of work
  • The preparation and interest of pupils in a variety of activities.


  1. b) Teacher designed tasks and tests

SPHE includes areas of knowledge and understanding that will need to be assessed at regular intervals. Specific tasks can be used to ascertain a pupil’s ability to apply particular skills in different situations.


  1. c) Portfolios and Projects:

Teachers may decide that pupils will keep personal folders of their work.


  1. d) Self- assessment by pupils:

Pupils are encouraged to engage in assessing their own progress in SPHE and to reflect on their learning.


Recording data from these methods of assessment can contribute to the overall picture of a pupil’s development and can be used as a reference for the teacher when planning for SPHE and in communicating with the pupil, parents, other teachers and or principal.



  1. Children with Different Needs

Teachers will endeavour to adapt and modify activities and methodologies in SPHE to encourage participation by children with special needs.






  1. Equality of Participation and Access


We view the SPHE programme as playing a key role in ensuring equality of opportunities for all pupils. The programme at each class level will be flexible so that the learning requirement of all pupils may be addressed. Our school provides an equal educational experience for both boys and girls. Pupils with special needs are involved in all activities.









7.1. Policies and Programmes that support SPHE:



  • Code of Behaviour
  • AUP policy
  • Admissions and Enrolment Policy
  • Health and Safety Policy
  • Anti – Bullying policy
  • Healthy Eating policy
  • Green schools
  • Student Council
  • Substance Use policy
  • RSE Policy
  • Child Safeguarding statement
  • Worry Box
  • Weekly assembly


7.2. Substance Use Policy: The Walk Tall programme is the resource used to address this area. See Substance use policy for further details.


7.3. Relationships and Sexuality Education:  The RSE manuals from the DES are resources used in this area. See RSE policy for school policy on material to be covered, the timeline for same etc.  Lessons with a sensitive content are taught in the last term as per this policy.


7.4. Child Protection: The Stay Safe programme is taught in its entirety in the first term of year 1 of the two year cycle and the lessons on touch are revisited in year 2 when sensitive RSE content is taught.



  1. Homework:


SPHE homework, if prescribed in SPHE, will reflect the active learning approach and will reinforce information already taught in class. Parents are encouraged to become active participants and engage as appropriate, with their child in assigned homework.



  1. Resources:


Resources used will be:


  • Reflective of the school ethos
  • Age appropriate
  • Closely matched to specific objectives
  • In line with the principles of SPHE programme.





Resources for SPHE:


  • Revised Stay Safe Manuals
  • RSE Manuals
  • Revised Walk Tall Manuals
  • School Code of Behaviour
  • Anti- Bullying policy
  • ‘Making The Links’ booklets have been distributed to all teachers.
  • Safe Cross Code
  • Be Safe
  • Bí Folláin CDS
  • Prim Ed publications.
  • IWB and associated resources.



10 .Individual Teachers’ Planning and Reporting:

This plan in SPHE and the curriculum documents together with ‘Making the Links’ will inform and guide the teachers in their long and short term planning in SPHE. Teachers are asked to check the policy for the strand, the strand unit agreed for that month.


Each teacher will record objectives covered in Cuntas Miosuil and this provides insight into our progress and needs when evaluating and reviewing our progress in SPHE. The lessons covered at each class level will be added to appendix 1 at the end of each school year.





  1. Staff Development:


  • Funding will be sought for the provision of suitable materials when deemed necessary.
  • Opportunities/ courses provided by Wexford Education Centre will be brought to the attention of staff members. Career development will be sought for staff when required, or as requested.
  • CAPP/ PDST services will be accessed to provide appropriate in-service for all staff as required.



12 .Parental Involvement:


Parental involvement is considered an integral part to effectively implementing SPHE as SPHE is a shared responsibility. This plan and the curriculum documents will be available for parents to inform them of the programme for SPHE. Parents were represented as committee members in developing the Relationships and Sexuality Education Policy, Substance Use policy and involved in reviews.







13 .Community Links:



We believe that the local community has a very important role to play and endeavour to liaise with members such as the Public Health Nurse, fireman, ambulance, service, lifeguard, vet, garda, new parent etc. to assist, as appropriate, the SPHE programme.




  1. Success Criteria

The success of this plan will be evaluated through teacher’s planning and preparation and if the procedures outlined in this plan have been consistently followed. When judging its success we will also consider whether the children have been enabled to achieve the aims outlined in this plan.




We believe that the school community must be involved to successfully implement SPHE. Therefore the teaching staff will implement this plan with the support of the Board of Management, parents and the local community.




  1. Review


 Roles and Responsibilities

It will be necessary to review this plan on a regular basis to ensure optimum implementation of the SPHE curriculum in the school. This plan will reviewed in 2020/2021 school year. This review will be co-ordinated by the principal and will involve pupils, parents, teachers and the BOM. This policy has been distributed to all teachers, members of the Board of Management.




Ratification and Communication

The Board of Management of ratified this amended and reviewed plan on 25th April 2018 and made available to staff and parents.



Review of SPHE Plan 2018


This plan was reviewed by staff during a staff meeting on March/ April 2018

It was agreed that the plan has been effective in ensuring a common and continuous teaching approach and that SPHE is working well within our school.


Staff is reminded to check- the month, the strand, the unit, making the Links – when planning for SPHE.


A copy of this updated plan will be placed in the School Plan and will also be circulated to all staff members through Nas box. This plan should be reviewed every second year, the next review will be during the school year 2020/2021.