Risk only well funded schools will offer new PE subject

Increased State supports for PE facilities to ensure equitable access for all claims Principals group

Leitrim Sport

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Leitrim Sport

Risk only well funded schools will offer new PE subject

Drumshanbo Vocational School Volleyballers - PE will be added to the Exam curriculum

There is a risk that the new examinable PE curriculum might be taken up by only the most well-funded schools according to the National Association of Principals and Deputy Principals.

Commenting on the announcement that Physical Education (PE) will be examinable at Leaving Certificate level, Clive Byrne, Director of the National Association for Principals and Deputy Principals, said “We welcome the introduction of PE as an examinable subject for the Leaving Certificate as part of an initial pilot scheme.

“This is a positive development for students which recognises the importance of a balanced, holistic education that places health and wellbeing at the centre of students’ lives.

“Along with developments around new subjects such as Computer Science and Politics and Society, we are beginning to see a changed Leaving Certificate program which is increasingly more relevant to students’ needs.”

However, Mr Byrne cautioned “The National Association for Principals and Deputy Principals are concerned that the shortage of teachers at second level may impact the implementation of PE as an examinable subject for Leaving Certificate, beyond its initial pilot stage.

“It is vital that schools are given the necessary supports in terms of teachers, equipment, and facilities to ensure that PE can be offered to students in all schools across Ireland. We know that many secondary schools do not have the gymnasium facilities or equipment required to implement PE as an examinable Leaving Certificate subject.

A 2015 survey of 400 voluntary schools, conducted by the Joint Managerial Body, found that only half of all secondary schools have gymnasium facilities available to students.

Only a quarter of PE gymnasium facilities are fully-funded by the State, with 45% of PE gymnasiums completely funded by the schools and 27% partially funded by the State.

To provide some level of facilities, the research found that many schools are spending up to €7000 a year from their already stretched resources to hire such facilities.

“We need to ensure that PE doesn’t become a Leaving Certificate subject available only to the best funded schools in Ireland,” Mr Byrne added, “While this pilot project is an important step forward, we need to ensure as it moves beyond its pilot stage and that adequate funding is provided to the schools most in need of investment to support a full roll-out.”