As Minister for Education and Skills I believe that the positive impact of a student’s participation in physical Education at both primary and post-primary level on the physical and mental well-being of that student cannot be underestimated. I welcome the Government’s proposals in Project Ireland 2040 to invest in this area.
To identify the number of second-level schools with no physical education hall or requiring a replacement hall, my Department’s approach is to do so as part of a national sports facilities audit that is due to be undertaken as part of the National Sports Policy 2018-2027 that was published by the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport (DTTS) in July 2018.
This audit will enable a town approach and a cross-Government approach to be taken in relation to PE facilities. It may be the case that a particular school may not have a PE facility but there might be a facility adjoining the school or in that town, provided as part of the sports capital programme or otherwise, that is accessible and can be maximised to make the best use of an asset which has been provided with State funds.
My Department is currently engaging with DTTS on this and is represented on the Sports Leadership Group established by DTTS to oversee the implementation of the National Sports Policy.
The National Sports Policy document envisages the audit being undertaken by local authorities and it being completed by July 2020. Once completed, the audit will feed into the work of my Department in relation to the PE build and modernisation programme that is outlined for delivery during the second half of the National Development Plan 2018 to 2027. In the meantime, the provision of modern PE facilities is incorporated into large-scale building projects under my Department's school building programme. It is anticipated that construction in 2018 and 2019 involves the provision of 48 PE Halls at post-primary level and 82 GP Rooms at primary level.