Katherine Donnelly | Opinion | Irish Independent | 15.12.17

PE for Leaving Certificate - Schools don't have the facilities to offer PE for Leaving Cert

Many schools don't have the gym facilities or equipment to offer the new Leaving Certificate subject in physical education (PE), principals have warned.

The Government will have to provide funding to ensure equitable access to the subject for all pupils, according to National Association of Principals and Deputy Principals (NAPD) director Clive Byrne.

He recalled a 2015 survey that found only half of the 400 schools in the voluntary secondary sector - generally those under the patronage of the religious - had their own gym facilities.

"We need to ensure that PE doesn't become a Leaving Certificate subject available only to the best funded schools in Ireland," he said.

Students entering fifth year in September will be the first to have the opportunity to do PE as a Leaving Certificate subject.

Education Minister Richard Bruton has issued an invitation to schools to apply to participate in the initial roll out in 2018, which, in its first phase, will be limited to about 50-60 schools.

As well as a traditional written exam, for which 50pc of marks will be available, candidates will also be assessed on a sporting or dance performance and a physical activity project.

Mr Byrne said they welcomed the introduction of PE as an examinable subject, describing it as a positive development that recognised the "importance of a balanced, holistic education that places health and wellbeing at the centre of students' lives".

But he cautioned that principals were concerned that the shortage of teachers at second-level may affect the implementation of PE as an examinable subject for Leaving Certificate, beyond its initial phase.

Mr Byrne said many schools did not have the gymnasium facilities or equipment required to implement PE as an examinable subject.

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