My Department fully supports the promotion of healthy lifestyles in schools and has issued circulars to support and strengthen schools’ efforts in developing in young people the skills and attitudes needed to make informed decisions about their health. Through the curriculum students are taught the key skills and knowledge to enable them to make healthier life choices and to develop the resilience to reject negative options. This can be seen through subjects such as Social, Personal and Health Education (SPHE), Home Economics, as well as in Physical Education and as part of the new Junior Cycle Wellbeing Programme that was introduced to all first year students from September 2017.
My Department works very closely with the Department of Health in promoting the 'Healthy Ireland' agenda in schools and is represented on the Obesity Policy Implementation Oversight Group and the National Physical Activity Plan Implementation Group.
Another significant development in this area is the introduction on a phased basis from September 2018 of a new examinable Leaving Certificate Physical Education subject and a new non-examinable Framework for Senior Cycle Physical Education.
As part of the National Development Plan 2018-2027, increased funding has being provided for the school sector capital investment programme. This funding will allow a continued focus on the generation of new permanent school places to keep pace with demographic demand. The new funding will also provide for an additional focus on refurbishment of the existing school stock. As part of the National Development Plan, I announced a PE build and modernisation programme. This will ensure that students in all Post Primary schools have access to appropriate facilities to support PE provision.
This ramp up in funding will take place progressively over the period of the Plan.