S.P.H.E is a Junior Cycle programme, and is part of the core curriculum. S.P.H.E stands for Social, Personal and Health Education, and throughout the three years of the programme, students are introduced to 10 modules, which are intended to promote healthin the widest possible sense.
There is no written examination in the subject, but it aims to equip students with real life skills that will be helpful to them throughout their lives.
The ten modules are:
These modules are taught through "experiental learning", so there is a great emphasis on the students input through role plays, discussions questionaires, etc.
In first year, there are 4/5 sessions of about 3 classes each. This year, the first session was a Friendship day, encouraging students to get to know their new school and make friends. Later on, we had a short follow-up session to see how students were coping with school life, and make sure that any issues such as some students experiencing difficulty settling in, could be dealt with as quickly as possible. Before Christmas, students has a session on Healthy eating, where through games, drawings etc, students learned in a fun way about nutrition.
Post Christmas, there was a session on Bullying, it's many forms, the effects and how it can be tackled before it get's out of hand. In April, students went to the Oysterhaven Activity Centre to give them a chance to get to know other first year students across class groups, as they will be in mixed groups for all their optional subjects from Second year. In May, there is the final session, looking back over the year, and looking forward to second year.
In Second and Third year, S.P.H.E. is timetabled for one class per week. The 10 modules continue to be taught, but from different perspectives, more suitable for the student increasing maturity. Students keep an S.P.H.E. diary, where they record the topic, and the activity that was used to cover the topic. Again, a mixture of discussions, games, role plays, crosswords etc, are used. Most students enjoy these classes, as there is no exam pressure, and particularly in Third year, it can be a useful place to address issues such as exam stress, which otherwise might not be dealt with.
Nicola Mc Cormick S.P.H.E. co-ordinator