80% of secondary school teachers believe PE should be exam subject
Sarah Lavin, National Junior Athlete of the Year 2013 (centre), with Adam Sheehan and Cliona Sullivan, both students from Oaklands Community College, Edenderry, Co Offaly, at the launch of the Aviva Health Insurance Schools fitness challenge yesterday. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill
Some 80 per cent of Irish secondary school teachers believe physical education (PE) should be a core examinable subject in the Leaving Certificate, according to a new survey.
Aviva Health carried out a study of 205 secondary schools which it says is a representative sample of the views of teachers in the country.
It follows a report last year by the Irish Sports Council and the ESRI which found high levels of physical activity among primary school children, but high levels of drop out in second level, especially among girls.
It also found participation in sport tails off considerably during exam years yet, paradoxically, students who play sport, on average, get better Leaving Cert results.
Separately, the Children’s Sport Participation and Physical Activity Study, carried out jointly by Dublin City University (DCU) and University College Cork (UCC), found just 19 per cent of primary and 12 per cent of post-primary school children had the recommended hour of moderate physical activity every day.
Not taken seriously
Speaking at the launch of the Aviva Health Schools Fitness Challenge yesterday, Prof Niall Moyna said PE was not taken seriously by the Department of Education though the benefits of it were irrefutable. “It is not taken seriously because it is not an examinable subject.”
Prof Moyna from the Centre for Preventative Medicine at DCU said it was rare for those who were physically active to present in later life with multiple risk factors for chronic diseases such as heart failure and diabetes, yet a disease-based model still prevails in the health system.
The challenge was launched yesterday by former Irish international athlete David Gillick. Secondary schools are encouraged to take part and the fitness challenge is open to 1st, 2nd and 3rd year pupils who will be assessed for their fitness levels. Schools have until January 17th to apply.
PE teachers will then participate in a six-week training programme with the pupils.