Planning and Resources

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Scroll to the bottom of the page to download planning resources for SPHE.



The organisational planning of SPHE

A school approach to SPHE should be realistic, reflect the needs of the children, and give a clear sense of purpose and direction to the teacher. It will identify the appropriate strategies for effectively implementing SPHE in the school and will result from consultation between parents, teachers, management and ancillary staff. School policies such as those on bullying, RSE, or substance use will inform the school approach to SPHE include:

  • Exploring the nature and essence of SPHE
  • Drawing up a school approach to SPHE
  • Engaging in an information and consultative process
  • Reviewing after a fixed period.

The board of management, parents, principal, teacher and ancillary and support staff have various roles to play in this process. Please consult the SPHE teacher guidelines on pp29-30 for additional information on the organisational planning of SPHE.



Developing the school plan for SPHE

Planning for SPHE should:

  • Create a common understanding of SPHE
  • Aim to utilise fully the interests and expertise of the teaching staff
  • Provide real help to the teacher
  • Outline a whole school approach to the implementation of the strands and stand units of the SPHE curriculum which will be applied consistently across the classrooms
  • Contribute to the overall school plan which will be reviewed by the board of management
  • Outline the links to related policies and programmes in the school that support SPHE i.e. Substance Use, Relationships and Sexuality education and Child Protection
  • Involve review and evaluation
  • Involve communication between teachers, parents and the board of management
  • Determine the roles of the principal and the teacher in the planning and implementation of the programme



A whole school approach to planning SPHE

The curriculum in SPHE comprises three strands; Myself, Myself and Others and Myself and the wider world which are subdivided into a number of strand units. These strand units consist of a topic or a number of topics that are related to the unit. The strands and strand units are consistent are presented at four levels and are consistent across the school.

It is envisaged that aspects of all three major strands will be covered in any one year. A whole school approach is recommended when choosing the strand units from within the strands to cover each year in such a way that the child will receive a comprehensive programme in SPHE over a two year period. Adopting a whole school approach to covering the strand units ensures consistency in implementation from class to class for the child. It is at the schools discretion to decide on the strand units to cover each year, as long as something from the three strands; Myself, Myself and Others and Myself and the wider world is covered each year. The strands and strand units should be outlined in the SPHE school plan.


Planning SPHE through discrete time and integration

While the school climate and atmosphere is a key context for learning, SPHE also takes place through discrete time and an integrated approach across relevant subject areas. 


The following teacher manuals, supported by the Department of Education and Skills are considered the core resources for full implementation of the SPHE curriculum at all class levels. See the SPHE resources document below for further support materials.

  • Making the Links
  • Stay Safe Programme
  • Walk Tall Manuals for all class levels
  • Relationships and Sexuality Education manuals for all class levels


Please consult the SPHE teacher guidelines on pp 31-32 for further information on planning SPHE through discrete time and integration. Exemplars 1-5 outlined on the teacher guidelines on pp 42-51 outline how a number of different strand units in the SPHE curriculum can be explored during SPHE discrete time and across other subjects.


Identifying support and resources for SPHE

Planning for the SPHE curriculum will involve identifying and enlisting the support of different groups or individuals in the community. These include:

  • Support of members of the local community: Members of the local community who can support the SPHE curriculum in significant ways include: A local Garda, fire-fighter, traffic warden, nurse or doctor can visit the classroom, work with the teacher and reinforce what has been taught. Other people who could be involved are a local forestry team, a vet, a presenter from local radio or members of local community groups.
  • Use of special-focus programmes: Many programmes are available both national and regional that may be relevant and useful to SPHE and have clear links with the strands and strand units of the curriculum. It is essential that any special focus programmes used in school comply with the principles of the SPHE curriculum
  • Regional Health authorities: Health promotion centers can support specific aspects of SPHE in the school through the provision of information, training and resources.
  • The Media: Recorded extracts from advertisements, programmes, DVDs and CDs will be necessary to examine the influence of the media and the techniques they employ. In this context the daily newspaper, when it is explored with the children, can also be an invaluable resource in the classroom. The availability of a range of information and communication technologies offers further possibilities for children to examine methods of communication and information retrieval.


The school can draw up a set of criteria for choosing resources so that those that are used cater appropriately for the aims and objectives of the curriculum and reflect the school policies and school ethos. A sample of criteria for choosing resources is outlined as an appendix in the SPHE teacher guidelines on p103.


Classroom planning for SPHE

A plan of work for the classroom derives from the overall school plan and must reflect school policy on all matters related to the social, personal and health education of the child.


Planning issues for the teacher

  • There is a direct correlation between the quality of the learning environment and the quality of the learning that takes place within it. A positive classroom climate and atmosphere where children feel respected, valued and cared for, is essential for the effective implementation of an SPHE programme. Any learning that occurs will need to be reflected in the everyday interactions in the class and in the ways in which the children and teacher work and relate together

A positive classroom climate and atmosphere can be created through providing:

  • a pleasant teaching and learning environment that feels spacious and is visually stimulating
  • a variety of ways for children to work and interact positively together
  • appropriate strategies for resolving conflict and rewarding children
  • opportunities to negotiate class rules and to involve children in decision making
  • reflection at the end of the school day or week
  • experiences that heighten self-confidence and self esteem
  • opportunities to set goals for the day or week
  • quiet time

Many aspects of SPHE can be dealt with in a cross- curricular manner while other aspects will benefit from the discrete time available on the timetable. In planning, it will be crucial for the teacher to decide how these two approaches can be used effectively to implement the curriculum. In planning for both approaches the teacher will have to ensure that: the SPHE programme is comprehensively covered for all children, the integrity of individual subjects is not compromised, the discrete time is used as effectively as possible and integration is meaningful.


Planning for discrete time and integration


Other factors in planning SPHE include: the experience of the class so far, the need to respond to changing social and environmental needs, a spiral approach to the programme, individual difference, finding a balance between skills, values and attitudes and the acquisition of information, the need to use a variety of approaches and methodologies and flexibility to deal with incidents and events that may arise in the classroom



Resources for SPHE

The SPHE primary school curriculum and the SPHE teacher guidelines are the key resource for all teachers to support them in implementing a SPHE programme in the primary school

  • A list of sample criteria for a school to consider in choosing resources for their schools is outlined on p103 of the SPHE teacher guidelines.
  •  'Making the Links'  is a practical guide for the integration of the Walk Tall, RSE and Stay Safe programme across the strand units of the SPHE Curriculum at all class levels.
Sample criteria for choosing SPHE resources