Human Relationships & Sex Education
St Patrick’s Catholic Primary School
Reviewed: November 2016
Anticipated Review Date: September 2018
Vision for Human Relationships and Sex Education
At St Patrick’s Catholic Primary School, we are inspired by Jesus to be the very best we can be. We look after one another and show respect and love through our relationships with one another. In the Beatitudes, Jesus invites us to lead a full life with him by explaining what makes people blessed or happy. This is about understanding how loving our neighbour enables us to be happy too. Therefore, having a good relationship with ourselves and the other people in our lives makes us grow and flourish. We respect that everyone is a unique and beautiful part of God’s creation. We are all children of God, called to grow in love for him through the person of Jesus Christ and to spread the Good News through the action of the Holy Spirit.
The ethos of St Patrick’s Catholic Primary School is founded on Catholic Christian principles. These principles form the cornerstone of our Sex and Relationships Education (SRE) Policy. We have also used the DfE guidance document Sex and Relationship Education Guidance (ref DfE 0116/2000). In this document, sex education is defined as ‘learning about physical, moral and emotional development. It is about understanding the importance of marriage for family life, stable and loving relationships, respect, love and care. We teach sex education in a manner that enables young people to understand God’s gift of human sexuality.
The following groups have been consulted as part of producing this policy:
Staff (in staff meetings and HRSE training);
Parents and carers
Diocesan Education Service;
The Parish of St Mary Cleator. (through foundation governors and the Parish priest)
In consultation with the Governing Body, the policy will be implemented in 2017, reviewed every (two years), by the Head teacher, HRSE Co-ordinator, the Governing Body and school Staff. The next review date is September 2018. The policy will be circulated to all members of the Governing Body and all members of staff. The Education Service will be sent a copy of the school’s HRSE policy and it is the duty of the Governing Body to ensure that this is up-to-date.
As a primary school in the Diocese of Lancaster Education Service, we use the term Human Relationships and Sex Education (HRSE) as it believes that relationships education is about all aspects of growing a fulfilled and happy life, sexual education is a dimension of this greater whole. For example, the defining belief of Christianity is that God took on human form. This endows the human form with an extraordinary dignity that goes beyond that of all other forms of life and shows that humanity alone can embrace this relationship with God. Therefore, our relationship with our own bodies is not casual but infused with the Holy Spirit. Any teaching about love and sexual relationships in school must be rooted in this belief which is expressed in the Church’s teaching about relationships, marriage, sex and family life.
The Church offers education to young people as it is part of complete human formation. Education about human love is no less a part of a Catholic school’s responsibility than teaching about mathematics or English.
At St. Patrick’s Catholic Primary School, we teach young people about how to form relationships, including understanding loving relationships and acknowledging that children’s first experience of love is in the home.
We encourage children from the earliest age to recognise that they are all children of God and that each person shares a God given dignity.
As children mature, we encourage them to follow the example of Jesus and live lives inspired by the Gospel virtues, enabling them to follow His commandment to “Love your neighbour as yourself” (Mark 12:31). This is the basis for all relationships in our school.
Teaching about relationships in our schools is supported by Christian virtue teaching as outlined in the Catechism of the Catholic Church and in line with ‘Fit for Mission Schools’.
The Department for Education (2000) suggests that sex and relationship education should build on the children’s own experiences, be sensitive to the specific domestic contexts the children come from, form attitudes and values towards relationships, develop personal and social skills and increase the knowledge and understanding of each young person as they grow about their relationships and well-being, including sexual health. The Diocese of Lancaster supports all these aims in educating about relationships and sex education though recognises that the Church’s objectives in this are about complete human formation.
The statutory framework that surrounds education about human relationships largely falls within three key areas:
The National Curriculum (2014);
Statutory Guidance: ‘Sex and Relationships Education Guidance’ (2000);
The Children’s Act (2004).
Additionally, non-statutory guidance directs policy and guides the work of OFSTED as it seeks to promote what is perceived as best practice, which may go beyond the limits of statute.
Virtues and Values
Gospel virtues and values underpin the HRSE curriculum.
The Christian tradition describes behaviours or habits that lead to happiness, human flourishing and a closer relationship with God as virtues. These virtues are described in the Catechism of the Catholic Church and fall into two groups:
The theological virtues of faith, hope and charity (sometimes love is used instead) are about developing the habits of being open to the work of the Holy Spirit and developing a deeper relationship with God through living a balanced and happy, good life.
The cardinal virtues of practical wisdom (prudence), justice, fortitude and temperance help people develop habits of reason, fairness, emotional resilience and self-mastery. They are human virtues and, as such, are part of the development of people of all faiths or none as they learn how to flourish, thrive and to have a life supported by strong and caring relationships. The cardinal virtues are drawn from the teachings of Plato and Aristotle and are held in common with people of many faiths and secular beliefs.
St. Thomas Aquinas attributes the theological virtues as having their foundation in God, they complete the cardinal virtues and are the way people can reach “the abundant life” (John 10:10).
At St Patrick’s Catholic Primary School, we live out the Gospel values shared in the Beatitudes in every aspect of school life by sharing a rich prayer life, giving priority to maintaining and enriching the quality of our relationships, abiding by our code of conduct and participating in the sacraments together.
Aims and objectives
The aim of HRSE is part of our aim to educate the complete human person. This is expressed in ‘Fit for Mission? Schools’ (2009).
The fundamental needs of the human person are the focus of Catholic education – intellectual, physical, emotional, social, and spiritual, and eschatological (our eternal destiny). These fundamental needs can only be truly fulfilled through a rich and living encounter with the deepest truths about God and the human person. This is why Christ and His Gospel must be the foundation of the educational project of each school and college, because He is ‘the perfect Man in whom all human values find their fullest perfection’ (Congregation for Catholic Education, The Religious Dimension of Education in a Catholic School).
Therefore, the Catholic school or college is called to keep the Gospel whole and alive amongst pupils, families, and staff.
HRSE should deepen the following areas of understanding:
Self-respect and love of self;
The development and deepening of a loving relationship with God;
That life has a purpose;
The development and deepening of relationships with each other based on mutual respect and care and to understand this can be an expression of God’s love;
Fostering an understanding of the teachings of the Catholic Church about how to live a full life, a life of virtue, and the place of human sexuality in living a full life, marriage and parenthood;
A strong awareness of their own safety and the nature of consent;
The law in England about Equality and Marriage, appropriate to age and maturity.
We will seek to develop attitudes of awe and wonder for the gift and beauty of self, respect for each other as children of God and rejoice in the goodness of God’s creation.
We will seek to develop attitudes of responsibility towards ourselves and others, recognising the dignity in all.
We will seek to enable children to understand the choices they make and how they can help or harm themselves and others.
We will encourage children to learn about expressing their own emotions and being respectful of the emotions and behaviours of others.
We will encourage the whole school to be like a loving family recognising God as a merciful and generous father as Jesus taught in the Lord’s prayer.
We will encourage everyone in the school to recognise their part in the school family and work together for reconciliation when relationships in the school falter. We will encourage everyone in the school to value humility, mercy and compassion and to respond with empathy to the problems of others.
We will develop children’s knowledge of when to say ‘no’ to behaviours or attitudes that harm their dignity or the dignity of others and to be responsible for their own safety.
We will develop children’s experience of what it is to be happy so that they begin to understand the difference between happiness and gratification and value patience.
We will teach children about the media and their choices, about what to watch, what games to play, what rules apply and that the dignity of all does not just apply to people who are physically seen, it applies to online relationships too.
We will support children when relationships in their lives are challenging and teach them that there are people in school who will listen if they are experiencing changes that make them frightened or uncomfortable.
We will foster an atmosphere in school which celebrates the work of the Trinity through the life of the school and its relationship with the Church.
We will teach children about the beauty of the Church’s teaching about love and God’s love for them which is shared in the Sacraments.
We will sensitively share the Church’s teaching about the importance of marriage and family life as a way to live in loving relationships with others and with God.
At St Patrick’s Catholic Primary School, we identify that young people mature in different ways. Our teaching about relationships and sexuality is respectful of each child’s starting point, their faith, culture and sexual orientation. Lessons are framed by this understanding and young people are encouraged to respect difference and develop an approach of dialogue.
The governing body has wide obligations under the Equalities Act 2010 and will work to ensure that St Patrick’s Catholic Primary School endeavours to do its best for all of the pupils, irrespective of ability (physical and mental), race, ethnicity, nationality, sex, gender identity or orientation or whether they are looked after children.
Please see the school’s Equality Policy and Single Equality Scheme.
Programme of Study
The Diocese of Lancaster has a programme of study for its family of schools. The programme ranges from ages 2-19 years and provides suggested areas of study and outcomes for the young people it serves. It is envisaged that this programme will be taught in discreet lessons, in cross curricular lessons, particularly R.E. and science and fundamentally embedded in the ethos of the school through assemblies, classroom discussions and the centring of all relationships in school on the person of Jesus Christ. The programme of study is based on the teachings of the Church and aims to help young people develop their sense of purpose and character. It is taught as part of a broad and balanced curriculum and allows children to express alternative beliefs and viewpoints where they hold such views. The programme of study will be supported by published resources, recommended by the Diocese, as well as those created by the school.
The Church recognises parents as the first educators of their children. The school supports parents in this task. The role of the school should be that of assisting and completing the work of parents, furnishing children with an evaluation of “sexuality as value and task of the whole person, created male and female in the image of God”. (Educational Guidance in Human Love (1983) Sacred Congregation for Catholic Education n69).
Children’s first experience of relationships and love are in the home. At our school we seek to work with parents and support them as their children grow and begin to develop their own character as well as experiencing changes in their physical appearance.
Parents have been consulted about this policy through the school newsletter before it was ratified by the governing body. The policy is available on the school website and a paper copy available on request.
Parents have the right to withdraw their children from HRSE lessons, however, they are not able to withdraw their children from statutory science lessons. Should parents wish to withdraw their child(ren) they must contact the headteacher no later than the start of the school day when the lesson will take place.
The school will involve and support parents in learning about HRSE by holding parents’ meetings, sharing resources through homework activities, sending letters about specific programmes involving their children (e.g. Kidsafe).
At times, areas of particular sensitivity, such as puberty, will benefit from additional parental support and at such times, letters will sent home and parents may be invited into school to discuss the content of HRSE lessons.
Miss Gayle Wilkinson is responsible for leadership, co-ordination and monitoring of the programme, supported by link governor, Mrs. Hayley McCarron
Class teachers are responsible for delivery.
All staff are involved in fostering attitudes, living Gospel virtues and shaping behaviour based on a Christian understanding of how to lead a good life. Staff are called to be role models of the school’s ethos in their relationships with other staff members, their conduct towards parents and their care for the children in the school. Staff who are not Catholic themselves must conduct their behaviour in school in accordance with the vision and mission of the school.
Teaching and learning about human relationships will be part of the life of the school. However, the programme of study will be taught through cross-curricular dimensions where appropriate, such as R.E. and science.
Sometimes, the children’s learning will be best supported by using other agencies, such as the school nurse, or other visitors to school. Such visitors will be guided to read the protocol for visitors and agree to follow its instruction.
Supporting children and young people deemed to be at risk
Sensitive subjects in HRSE always need to be framed so that the young people who are participating know that there is pastoral support if any of the issues discussed make them feel the need to talk further or share confidential information. This should always be done within the safeguarding framework of the school and it is paramount that all staff teaching HRSE have up to date safeguarding professional development. Questions asked by students that are a cause for concern for the teacher, for example because of their explicit or graphic content, should be addressed in accordance with the school’s Child Protection Policy and procedures. All staff are regularly briefed and understanding checked.
The role of the Headteacher
It is the responsibility of the Headteacher to ensure that both staff and parents and carers are informed about our Human Relationships & Sex Education Policy, and that the Policy is implemented effectively. It is also the Headteacher’s responsibility to ensure that members of staff are given sufficient training, so that they can teach effectively and handle any difficult issues with sensitivity.
The Headteacher ensures that all adults who work with children on these issues are aware of the Policy, and that they work within this framework. The Headteacher monitors this Policy on a regular basis and reports to Governors, when requested, on the effectiveness of the Policy.
The role of the Governing Body/ Monitoring and Review
The Curriculum and Standards Committee of the Governing Body monitors the Policy. This committee reports its findings and recommendations to the full Governing Body. The Curriculum & Standards Committee gives serious consideration to any comments from parents and carers about the Policy.