27 / 09 / 2022

Let us thank all those who teach in Catholic schools. Educating is an act of love; it is like giving life.

Pope Francis

The Flourish Programme – an RSE Programme for Catholic Primary Schools

For many years, Catholic schools have been searching for a Relationships and Sexuality Programme that reflects Catholic values, while respecting other viewpoints. The Catechetics Council, acknowledging this need, undertook to have a programme written which would view the subject through a Catholic lens and foster moral development based on Church teachings and values. This is what the Flourish programme aims to do.

In his keynote address to the JMB/AMCSS Annual Conference in Galway in 2018, Archbishop Eamon Martin said: ‘Catholic schools should help educate young people in taking responsibility and making well-informed decisions regarding their choices, including being aware of their own values and those of others who may differ from them.’ For this reason, Catholic schools, rather than shying away from the subject, have a responsibility to help children make sense of the many and varied influences they are exposed to, by helping them develop a moral compass. Parents need to be involved every step of the way. This is the approach adopted by the Flourish programme.

This programme does not replace the RSE component of SPHE (Social, Personal and Health Education) which is on the Department of Education Curriculum. It is designed to complement programmes such as ‘Stay Safe,’ ‘Walk Tall’ etc. It consists of four lessons per class per year and it is recommended to be conducted during the second term when a relationship of trust has been built in the classroom.

The programme strands – ‘Myself’ and ‘Myself and the Wider World’ makes it easy to integrate with SPHE lessons and there is a comprehensive list of integration points with other curricular subjects provided. It is spiral in nature, building year on year on what the children already know and tailored to their level of understanding.

Key themes are building self-belief and self-respect, respect for others and the centrality of human relationships in all our lives. The emphasis is placed on love as a truly positive and life-giving thing, that our bodies are wonderfully designed gifts from God and that bringing new life into the world is a great blessing as well as a huge responsibility. Throughout the programme, parents are encouraged to have open conversations with their children and discuss their values and beliefs at home.

The core gospel values reflected in the Flourish programme are:

  • That human life is a gift from God and mut be protected. The children are encouraged to wonder and marvel at the miracle of birth and to consider the care and love that a baby needs to thrive.
  • Each person must be treated with dignity. Bullying and disrespect of all kinds are reflected on in a Christian context.
  • Respect, mercy and forgiveness are central. Forgiving ourselves for making mistakes and showing the same understanding to others.
  • Integrity to our beliefs. Parents, teachers and students, through their discussions, help establish beliefs which children can articulate and stand over when they are faced with difficult decisions.
  • Respect for others and their beliefs. Children are encouraged to listen and respect others’ right to their traditions and points of view.

Every lesson in the Flourish programme finishes with either a reflection or prayer. This gives the child a chance to reflect on what they have learned and discussed and helps them to internalise it for themselves. They are also reminded that they can turn to God for help at any time and that he is always willing to listen.

The role of parents is central to Flourish. The children’s parents, as primary educators, have a much greater influence on their children than school or any outside source. Schools are encouraged to provide links to materials for parents, to meet with them if appropriate and to give activities which encourage home discussion, especially on the more sensitive subjects. Nature abhors a vacuum, and if parents and schools don’t deal with the subject of RSE, children will get their information and values from other sources.

The Flourish programme is currently available on the CPSMA website by following this link:

RSE Primary Resource – Flourish