Relationships and Sexuality Education (RSE) Policy

Coláiste an Spioraid Naoimh, Bishopstown, Cork.

Roll number: 62580U

School Patron: Presentation Brothers Schools Trust


Relationship and Sexuality Education (RSE) aims to provide opportunities for young people to learn about relationships and sexuality in ways to help them think and act in a moral, caring and responsible way.

This policy is a written statement of the aims of the RSE programme, the relationship of RSE to SPHE, and the provision of RSE within the school. It should be read in conjunction with other relevant school policies: Additional Educational Needs (AEN), Whole School Guidance (WSG) Homework and Assessment, Guidance, SPHE Subject Plan, Anti-Bullying, the Code of Positive Behaviour, the Presentation Brothers School Trust Charter, and other related policies.

School Details

Coláiste an Spioraid Naoimh is an all boys Catholic Voluntary Secondary School with an enrolment of over 700 students. The school is under the trusteeship of the Presentation Brothers School Trust. 

Mission Statement

Coláiste an Spioraid Naoimh is a Catholic school which seeks to create a caring environment, in which Christian values permeate all aspects of school life and teachers and students find fulfilment. The school believes in the vital importance of respect and good relationships between teachers, students and parents and is conscious of its role in the broader community.

Through the delivery of an excellent and ever evolving academic curriculum and the provision of our well established co-curricular and extra-curricular programmes, we:

  • promote academic excellence by encouraging all students to reach their full potential
  • foster the growth of self-worth and confidence through the development of the whole person;
  • equip students with life-skills and develop their leadership qualities by enabling them to take up leadership roles
  • nurture the importance of caring for the wellbeing of staff and students
  • provide students with opportunities to live their faith through liturgies, and by engaging in social action programmes.
  • empower students to take responsibility for care of the environment



The policy is required to bring clarity and consensus in relation to the content and delivery of the RSE programme at Coláiste an Spioraid Naoimh. 

It was developed in consultation with staff, students and parents/guardians and the PDST RSE facilitator and it complies with the legislative requirements


The policy will apply to aspects of teaching and learning about relationships and sexuality.

The policy will apply to school staff, students, board of management, parents/guardians, visiting speakers and external facilitators. Discussion about relationships and sexuality also takes place in other subject areas (for example, SPHE, science subjects and religion) where DES curriculum requirements are followed. 

Definition of Relationship and Sexuality Education (RSE)

Relationship and Sexuality Education is a developmental process through which pupils acquire knowledge and understanding about sexual identity and relationships.

It encourages pupils to make positive, responsible choices about themselves and their relationships with others. 

RSE and the School Ethos

The RSE programme reflects the educational philosophy of the Presentation Brothers School Trust (PBST) as reflected in our charter document, and the core values and Catholic ethos of the school.

It is cognisant of DES requirements and best practice guidelines as set out in Department circulars.    

Aims/Objectives of the RSE Programme 

The RSE programme seeks:

  • To help young people understand and develop friendships and relationships
  • To promote an understanding of sexuality.
  • To promote a positive attitude towards one’s own sexuality and in one’s relationship with others. 
  • To educate the students to have a clear understanding of the male and female reproductive systems. 
  • To enable young people to develop attitudes and values concerning their sexuality in a moral, spiritual and social framework. 
  • To enable students to develop the skills for coping with peer pressure, conflicts and threats to personal safety. 

Provision of RSE

Practical arrangements 

Arrangements regarding the teaching of the programme are made within the yearly school planning process.    


Parents/guardians are the primary educators of their children and their role in education concerning relationships and sexuality is crucial.

Through the delivery of the RSE programme at Coláiste an Spioraid Naoimh parents/guardians are supported in their role. 

Parents/guardians are informed in writing prior to the commencement of the RSE programme when their son is in Junior Cycle.

Parents/guardians are informed in the beginning of the school year in Senior Cycle. 

Outline of the Programme

The following is an outline of some of the topics that may be covered.

RSE is part of a wider programme of Social, Personal and Health Education (SPHE) in Coláiste an Spioraid Naoimh.

It contributes to developing the work of the school in promoting the overall wellness of its students. 

Junior Cycle 

The following is an outline of the topics that may be covered in first, second and third year.  Six SPHE periods are assigned to RSE per year. 

Apart from the specific lessons of RSE, SPHE covers other areas which would be pertinent to the development of a healthy attitude to sexuality in oneself and one’s relationship with others.

The content of the school’s SPHE programme includes a wide range of topics such as self-esteem, self-identity, assertiveness, motivation, effective communication, decision–making skills, bullying, healthy eating, hygiene and personal safety; all of which can contribute to the effectiveness of the RSE programme.  

Transition Year

Transition Year students participate in the ‘Bystander Intervention Programme.’ This is modelled on the U.C.C. Bystander Intervention programme. It seeks to educate our students to identify and call out unacceptable behaviour. 

The programme content includes: 

  • Consent and healthy relationships, 
  • Social norms and Sexual harassment, 
  • Online harassment and image based abuse.

It is an interactive programme, and all students are empowered to participate as they have the opportunity to share their views in small groups.

Senior Cycle 

In Senior Cycle RSE is a standalone module in fifth year. At least six timetabled periods are assigned to RSE.  

The programme content for this module is: 

Right to Withdraw

RSE will be delivered to Junior Cycle classes for six class periods during SPHE timetabled classes each year. 

RSE will be delivered to fifth year students during at least six class periods each year.

Parents/guardians who do not wish for their son(s) to attend these lessons have the right to withdraw from these lessons.

This option is presented to parents/guardians when they are being informed of the modules at the beginning of the school year.

If a student is being withdrawn parents/guardians are required to make their own supervision arrangements for their son at this time.  



Teachers cannot promise confidentiality to a student. 

If necessary a teacher may discuss a disclosure with the school’s Designated Liaison Person (DLP). 

Disclosures made by students will be dealt with in line with Child Protection Procedures for Primary and Post-Primary Schools 2023 .


Students with Additional Educational Need (AEN)

In line with the Coláiste an Spioraid Naoimh AEN policy, teachers of students with additional educational needs will seek appropriate guidance from the AEN department with regard to differentiated teaching and learning approaches prior to the commencement of these modules. 


Continuous Professional Development 

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. Some staff have training in the specific areas of RSE and SPHE.

The school will facilitate teachers to obtain training in this field where feasible.  



Within budgetary constraints, all resources needed in terms of time, finance, and personnel, will be made available to develop and support the RSE programme in the school. 


Reviewing and evaluating the policy

The policy will be reviewed periodically.  On-going review and evaluation will take cognisance of changing information, guidelines, legislation and feedback from parents/guardians, students, teachers and others.

Review by School Staff: 30th November 2023

Review by Students Council: 30th November 2023

Review by Parents Association: 24th January 2024

Ratified by Board of Management: