Junior Cycle Physical Education
Under the new Framework, schools may choose to incorporate a new Short Course in Physical Education (PE) into their junior cycle programme, either for certification purposes (which was not available previously) or not for certification. Alternatively, they may choose not to opt for the new course and may instead continue to use existing courses or choose other approaches to meet the requirements in this area. Schools may also decide to provide the PE short course in addition to their existing programmes. Circular 0079/2018, Arrangements for the Implementation of the Framework for Junior Cycle, states that schools should provide a minimum of 135 hours of PE spread across first, second and third year (i.e. the most common current allocation of PE provided by schools – two class periods per week).
The new short course in PE aims to develop students as knowledgeable, skilful and creative participants who are confident and competent to perform in a range of activities safely. The course aims to build students’ appreciation of the importance of health-enhancing and inclusive physical activity and a commitment to it now and in the future.
Under the current Rules and Programme for Secondary Schools, PE should form part of the curriculum. The syllabus in PE have been developed on the basis of a time allocation of two hours per week. In addition, the Department is currently working on two developments that will impact PE at senior cycle:
Leaving Certificate Physical Education
A new specification for Leaving Certificate Physical Education (LCPE) has been developed by the National Council for Curriculum and Assessment and approved by the Minister. This is a full subject that can be assessed as a Leaving Certificate subject in a manner similar to other subjects such as Maths and Irish. LCPE is currently being introduced on a phased basis to 64 schools nationally. The new subject will be available as a full (optional) subject to all post-primary schools from September 2020.
LCPE is designed to be taught in approximately 180 hours. It is recommended that of the five suggested class periods a week, a double period per week should be included to facilitate learners’ active participation in the three physical activities.
Senior Cycle Physical Education Framework
In addition to the specification for examinable LCPE at Senior Cycle, a Framework for Senior Cycle Physical Education (SCPE) has been designed to provide schools with a framework within which they can design a PE programme for those students who do not choose to take LCPE as part of their Leaving Certificate examination.
There are 40 post-primary schools participating in the phase 1 rollout of the Framework. The Framework is available now to all schools for their consideration in planning senior cycle PE. It will replace the guidelines set out in the Rules and Programmes for Secondary Schools which currently forms the basis for PE at senior cycle.
The Framework is designed to be taught over the two or three years of senior cycle education. It is recommended that a double period or its equivalent per week is made available as a minimum requirement for teaching the Framework.