Loreto College - Coleraine, Co. Derry, Northern Ireland
Loreto Crest

Relationships and Sexuality Policy


As a Catholic co-educational school, based on the tradition of the Institute of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Loreto College Coleraine is committed to reflecting values, attitudes and a moral perspective that are consistent with a Christian conscience and the teaching of the Church.

The College recognises that parents are the first and foremost educators of their children, particularly in the area of Relationships and Sexuality Education(RSE).  It is essential that a close partnership exists between school and home.

The spiritual charisma is the hallmark of the ethos of the Catholic school.  The spiritual is expressed specifically in liturgy, sacrament, prayer, worship and in faith formation with Christ as the model.

Relationships and Sexuality Education will be sensitively taught within a clear framework of morals and values.


The development of relationships is a two-way process which enables pupils to interact/relate to friends, family, the wider community, the Church and God.

Sexuality includes all aspects of the human person that relate to gender and is subject to change and development throughout life.  It is an integral part of the human personality and has biological, cultural, psychological, social and spiritual dimensions.  Sexuality is a God given gift which creates and nourishes.  It calls us into a relationship with Christ.  Faith enables interpretation of this gift within moral structures and behaviour.

Morals and Values
Morals are linked with behaviour and are directly related to faith and experience.

Values are the characteristics inherent in good moral behaviour, e.g. respect for self, honesty and self-disipline.

The modern world conveys numerous conflicting messages, many of which are directed specifically at the young.  The College aims to
• develop the whole person as a follower of Christ
• enhance the personal development, self-esteem and well-being of the young person
• help young people develop healthy and respectful friendships and relationships
• foster an understanding of, and a healthy attitude to, human sexuality and relationships in a moral, social and spiritual framework
• promote responsible behaviour and the ability to make informed decisions
• help young people to value family life and marriage
• prepare pupils to cope with the physical and emotional challenges of growing up
• appreciate the responsibilities of parenthood
• promote an appreciation of the value of human life and the wonder of birth.

The school will address sensitive issues in the context of Relationships and Sexuality Education in a Christian framework, whilst recognising the diverse nature of lifestyles today.

Sensitive issues likely to fall into this context include: -

Sex before Marriage
Extra Marital Sex
Sexual Orientation
Sacredness of Life/Abortion
Sexually Transmitted Diseases
Sexual Abuse

In addressing these issues we will also be sensitive to the level of detail taught, the terminology used and the use of visiting speakers.

The College expects all staff to approach these issues within the context of Catholic teaching.

While maintaining Catholic ideals we also recognise the need for a pastoral dimension of care for those who may be unable to reach these ideals.  As a school community our concern is not just to protect life, but also to celebrate the living of life in all its fullness.

Central to the Church’s teaching is the Sacredness of Human Life as mentioned in the Irish Bishops’ Pastoral Letter;

‘The Christian principle of respect for human life at every stage of its existence is firm and clear.  In the eyes of God every life is of equal and of priceless value.  One must have absolute respect for human life as coming from God’s hands at the very first moment of conception and as remaining under God’s care on earth until He takes it back to Himself again in death’.

Arising out of this there are a number of specific issues that need to be addressed.

As a Christian community we respect the sacredness of married love, striving to protect, support and assist the family.  Teachers will promote the qualities and values that will help to sustain family life.

Sexual intercourse of its very nature ‘belongs’ to marriage.

• It is the fullest natural expression of mutual commitment and self-giving love.
• It strengthens and deepens the union and commitment found in marriage.
• It is the means through which new human life is brought into existence, and this entails requirements and responsibilities which marriage can best provide.
The school will present Abstinence as a positive option to which young people can aspire.

Sexual Orientation
The Catholic Church teaches that the most desirable result of a person’s psychological development is the ability to enjoy a heterosexual relationship.
It also teaches that it is not Christian to despise those of a different sexual orientation and exclude them from society.

Teachers will endeavour to counteract prejudice and support the development of self-esteem and a sense of responsibility in every pupil.

Sacredness of Life/Abortion
The Irish Bishops in their pastoral letter, ‘Human Life is Sacred’, say

‘God’s commandment…... is that no human being may deliberately take away innocent human life.  What life could be more innocent than that of the unborn child?’

As a school community we believe that the embryo or foetus possesses its fundamental right to life from the moment of conception.  One of the foremost duties of Christians in society is to work to create conditions in which all children will be guaranteed equality of dignity and opportunity.

The fact that a particular person does not have long to live or has a life we judge to be more imperfect than our own does not remove their right to life, nor does it remove their right to respect as an individual.

The College’s curriculum provides information about the types of contraception and the risks to health.  However, our school ethos requires us to choose to be unconditionally pro-life.  God entrusts us to one another.

Sexually Transmitted Diseases
As the incidence of Sexually Transmitted Infections continues to rise the College considers it important to provide pupils with information about the most common STDs, the difference between HIV and AIDS, modes of transmission, practical/personal hygiene and compromising behaviours.  Those who are sexually active are potentially at risk from contracting HIV/AIDS and sexually transmitted infections.

Sexual Abuse
We seek to protect our pupils by raising their awareness of the risks of possible abuse, helping them to recognise unwelcome and unacceptable behaviour in others, and acquire the confidence and skills they need to keep themselves safe.

Detail Taught
When teaching this part of the curriculum the age and maturity of pupils will be taken into consideration.

Terminology Used
The acquisition of appropriate language in RSE is crucially important to enable young people to communicate confidently about themselves, their sexuality and their relationships.  The College will use appropriate biological and technical language.  The tone of discussions will be respectful and genuine.

Use of Visitors
The school may make use of outside agencies or individuals from the local community.  The activities which the agency or individual undertake will complement the ongoing RSE curriculum and will be compatible with our ethos.  These activities will be monitored and evaluated by the Pastoral Care Co-ordinator.


Monitoring and Evaluating
The Pastoral Team will formally review the programme initially after one year and subsequently every two years.

Feedback from staff, pupils and parents is sought through dialogue and questionnaire survey.  Evidence of pupils’ learning is achieved with the help of before and after attitudinal questionnaires.  Pupils benefit from knowing that their thoughts and feelings matter and teachers can use this information to develop the programme.

Monitoring and evaluating also involves close scrutiny of the literature/materials produced by external agencies such as CCEA and HMI.

Staff Training
As a learning-for-all school the College is committed to promoting and facilitating relevant training for both the professional and personal development of staff enabling them to carry out their duties and responsibilities more effectively.

INSET days and professional development time is set aside to train staff.
Outside agencies, in keeping with the ethos of the school, are brought in where necessary.

Where outside agencies, teams or individuals are invited into the College to deliver aspects of the RSE programme it is important to ascertain their status regarding child protection vetting requirements.  Where such is authorised by the DENI and/or NEELB to enter schools for this specific purpose these requirements are likely to have already been met.

Roles and Responsibilities
The effectiveness of an RSE policy and programme is dependent on a collaborative process involving pupils, teachers, parents, governors and other educational and health professionals.

The Board of Governors examines, approves and ratifies the RSE policy and programme.  The Governors of the College seek to accommodate and be sensitive to the religious and cultural beliefs of both teachers and parents, while fulfilling their responsibility to ensure the availability of adequate RSE for all young people.

The Principal was a member of the team who contributed to the policy and worked closely with the Pastoral Care Co-ordinator in the writing of the draft policy.  Senior leadership will assist with the implementation of this policy.

The Pastoral Care Co-ordinator acted as chairperson of the team.
His/her role is to provide a Relationship and Sexuality Programme that is relevant, developmental, accessible and a positive experience, and which takes pupils’ needs into consideration.

Form Teachers play an important role delivering aspects of the RSE programme in form class.  Their sensitive, enthusiastic approach is essential to the successful implementation of the policy and programme.

Elements of the RSE programme will be taught in Science, Religion, Home Economics and other relevant areas of the curriculum.

Appropriate outside agencies are brought in to support and complement the school RSE programme.

The home exerts a major influence on all aspects of a young person’s life and especially so in the domain of relationships and sexuality.  Parents and teachers must work together and the RSE programme should complement and support the role of parents.

Related Policies
Child Protection Policy
Pastoral Policy
Religious Education Policy