St. John's SNS Arklow



SPHE in St. John’s SNS

SPHE (Social Personal and Health Education) is taught in our school to enable each child to develop a positive sense of self-esteem, enhance social and communication skills and equip him/her with the knowledge and ability to lead a healthy life.

The SPHE curriculum provides pupils with opportunities to learn personal and social skills while helping them to create and maintain supportive relationships and to become active and responsible citizens. Teachers are expected to cover content from each of the three curriculum strands, Myself; Myself and others; and Myself and the wider world, in any one year. Over a two-year cycle, pupils should be introduced to all aspects of the curriculum that are pertinent to their stage of development. An integral part of the SPHE curriculum is the provision of relationships and sexuality education (RSE).


The aims of Social, Personal and Health Education are:

  • to promote the personal development and well-being of the child
  • to foster in the child a sense of care and respect for himself/herself and others and an appreciation of the dignity of every human being
  • to promote the health of the child and provide a foundation for healthy living in all its aspects
  • to enable the child to make informed decisions and choices about the social, personal and health dimensions of life both now and in the future
  • to develop in the child a sense of social responsibility, a commitment to active and participative citizenship and an appreciation of the democratic way of life
  • to enable the child to respect human and cultural diversity and to appreciate and understand the interdependent nature of the world.

SPHE is intended to provide particular opportunities to foster the personal development, health and well-being of the child and to help him or her to create and maintain supportive relationships and become an active and responsible citizen in society. The curriculum states that through SPHE, children can develop a framework of values, attitudes, understanding and skills that will inform their actions and decisions in these areas of their lives, both now and in the future. The curriculum for SPHE incorporates components on relationships and sexuality. Relationships and Sexuality Education (RSE) includes the acquisition of knowledge and understanding, and the development of attitudes, beliefs and values about relationships, sexual identity and intimacy (Department of Education and Science, 1996).

Other programmes which are taught in our school are Friends for Life and Roots of Empathy.

'FRIENDS for Life'

The ‘FRIENDS for Life’ programme is a school-based positive mental health programme. The World Health Organisation cites ‘FRIENDS for Life’ as the only evidence-based programme effective at all levels of intervention for anxiety in children (WHO 2004). The programme helps students to develop effective strategies to deal with worry, stress and change and teaches the skills required to reduce anxiety and promote resilience. It is beneficial for all students, irrespective of their anxiety level. Teachers can run the programme as a whole school anxiety prevention programme, as a whole class or small group intervention or with an individual student.

Friends for Life is the only childhood anxiety prevention programme acknowledged by the World Health Organisation for its 12 years of comprehensive validation in schools and health clinics across several countries and languages.

Roots of Empathy

Roots of Empathy is an evidence-based programme delivered in primary school classrooms which has shown significant effect in reducing levels of aggression among school children by raising social-emotional competence and increasing empathy.

At the heart of the programme is a baby and parent who visit the classroom every three weeks during the school year. A trained Roots of Empathy instructor coaches the children to observe the baby's development and to label the baby's feelings. The baby is the ‘teacher’ in this experiential learning, while the instructor helps the children identify and reflect on their own feelings and the feelings of others.

The Roots of Empathy instructor also visits before and after each family visit to prepare and reinforce teachings using a specialised lesson plan for each visit.

Research results from national and international evaluations of Roots of Empathy indicate significant reductions in aggression and increases in prosocial behaviours.


Roots of Empathy doll and picture book - How are you peeling?

Coolgreaney Rd, Yardland, Arklow, Co. Wicklow, Ireland
0402 32545
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