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Dáil Éireann debate -
Wednesday, 15 Mar 1972

Vol. 259 No. 11

Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - National College of Physical Education.


asked the Minister for Education when facilities will be available in Limerick for training for careers in physical education recently advertised by his Department; and the nature and extent of the courses to be provided.


asked the Minister for Education when the proposed National College of Physical Education at Limerick will be in operation; and the reason for the delay.

With your permission, a Cheann Comhairle, I propose to take Questions Nos. 28 and 29 together.

When a decision was taken, in December, 1970, to locate the National College of Physical Education at Plassy, Limerick, a time schedule was drawn up which allowed for the opening of the first section of the college in January, 1973.

Since then, planning has proceeded uninterruptedly, the various planning deadlines have been met and there has been no change in the opening date of the college. Recent newspaper reports, which indicated that the college would not open in time, showed no familiarity with the facts of the situation.

When female students were being recruited in April, 1971, for the 1971-72 school year, they were informed that the new college would open in January, 1973, and that, after they had spent their initial year in St. Raphael's or Ling Colleges, Dublin, bridging arrangements would be made for the period September-December, 1973. These arrangements have now been made. Students being recruited this year are being informed that their course will commence in Limerick in January, 1973.

It is intended that the National College of Physical Education will present a four-year course, leading to a degree. The course will provide physical education at specialist level, teacher training related to the theory and practice of education as well as a qualification to teach in the case of each trainee a subject other than physical education.

Am I right in thinking the Parliamentary Secretary said in his reply that applications were being taken and were advertised accordingly but that the school would not open until January, 1973 and that in the meantime there would be a bridging course? Will the Parliamentary Secretary give more details regarding this course? Is the Parliamentary Secretary aware that on 23rd January an advertisement appeared in the Sunday Independent advertising for students for the School of Physical Education in Limerick, and said that preliminary interviews would be held regularly from February, 1972 and that a number of suitable candidates would be called for final evaluation when the results of the leaving certificate, 1972 were available? It went on to give what the evaluation would consist of. In the meantime, students who have applied to the principal of the School of Higher and Physical Education in Limerick have been informed that the advertisements which appeared in the papers were placed by the Youth and Physical Recreation section, Development Branch, Department of Education. The planning board of the institute has not been authorised by the Minister to deal with arrangements for the physical education programme and so I cannot say whether it will be possible to admit students in September or not. I understand that construction work on the college——

The Deputy may not debate the question although he is making a fairly good job of it. This does not arise.

Will the Parliamentary Secretary tell me, for the students' sake, where is the co-operation between the Department of Education and the School of Physical Education in Limerick because the Department seem to be doing things on its own without any liaison between themselves and the School of Physical Education in Limerick? I want to know where the bridging course is being taken and does the curriculum in the bridging course agree with the curriculum that will be undertaken in Limerick? My information is that it does not.

The Deputy has raised so many issues that I do not know if I can take them all together.

The Deputy knows what he is talking about.

I hate to say this. In the first place, the Deputy talks about the principal of the School of Physical Education in Limerick. There is no principal of any school of physical education at this time and, therefore, the question of negotiation or consultation——

Do not quibble with words.

The Deputy has suggested that there was no consultation between the officers of my Department and some notional principal of a school of physical education.

Shall I call him the director?

Of what, of the School of Physical Education?

Of the National Institute——

That is a different matter entirely.

They are both on the same ground. He is director of both.

The Deputy is entitled to say that but the fact that he says it does not mean it is true.

It does mean it is true.

It does not.

What is he?

The Deputy is seeking information.

I want to clear up this. What is his function in regard to the School of Physical Education?

If the Deputy will allow me, I shall answer his question. First to assume that the director of the institute is the principal of the School of Physical Education is a wrong assumption. I do not think that even the director ever assumed that that was the case. I do not know where the Deputy got his information.

From his own written words.

I do not think he ever assumed that he would be principal of the new PT college. Secondly, as regards the bridging arrangement, the Deputy has given me an opportunity of at least clarifying this much. The bridging arrangement applies to the second year pupils. Those recruited last year at St. Raphael's and Ling College were informed at that time that the college would open in January, 1973 and this has been common notice all along as I said in my reply. Nothing has changed. It rather surprises me that suggestions have been made that it has changed. The bridging arrangements apply for them between September and January, 1973. They were informed at the time of their recruitment that this would be done and the arrangements that have been made have been discussed with the parents of the children concerned in my Department and with the principals of both schools who, I am glad to say, have been fully consulted at all times in all of this and who, in fact, have given me every consideration. Far from there being an objection, I think it is fair to say that they appreciate that the bridging arrangements that have been made for the second year pupils are in their best interests.

At St. Mary's, Strawberry Hill, London. The first-year pupils will not commence their course until January, 1973. In the meantime, the preliminary interviews are being held about this time, the first stage interviews. The second stage interviews will take place about September and the successful candidates will then be notified as to an appropriate course of interim study for themselves. I do not think there is any confusion. I wish that newspaper reports and suggestions such as the Deputy is making would not attempt to confuse what, in fact, is a very clear situation.

I want the Parliamentary Secretary——

We cannot discuss this question further. This is most unfair to other Deputies. Would Deputy Coughlan please resume his seat? I am calling Question No. 30. There are Deputies waiting for answers to other questions.

There is an answer and it is under the director's own——

It does not arise out of these questions. The Deputy knows that well.

It arises out of the advertisement put in the Sunday Independent.

Question No. 30.

With the permission of the Chair, I propose to raise the subject matter of this question on the Adjournment.

The Chair will communicate with the Deputy.