Students will have to submit video for new Leaving Cert PE exam
Department of Education will next week invite schools to apply to pilot the new exam subject
Minister for Education Richard Bruton and Taoiseach Leo Varadkar at the launch of the new Leaving Cert PE exam. Also pictured are students Conal Kehoe, Emma Crumlish, Ciara Rooney, Bernard Brogan, Dublin GAA footballer; and Mark Winters. Photograph: Maxwell Photography
Students who take the new physical education (PE) exam in the Leaving Cert will be required to submit a video of themselves taking part in an activity - such as athletics, rugby or ballet - for examiners to grade.
The Department of Education is to invite schools to apply to pilot a first phase of the subject next week, which will be a full, examinable Leaving Certificate subject with CAO points.
The new subject will have three assessment component: a performance assessment (30 per cent), a physical activity project (20 per cent) and a written exam (50 per cent).
In a first for the Leaving Cert, students will be asked to submit a recording of themselves demonstrating their skills and techniques in a chosen physical activity.
This may include a wide range of field sports (such as hurling, football, soccer, etc), aquatics (swimming, water-polo, etc) adventure activities (kayaking, rock-climbing, etc) or artistic movements (ballet, dance, etc).
The performance should “demonstrate the learner’s best personal performance in fully competitive and/or conditioned practices or performance settings”, according to the curriculum specification.
Students will be required to send this to the State Examinations Commission, which will grade the video.
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, who has promoted the idea of a Leaving Cert PE course for a number of years, said he was “thrilled” that the new subject will be an examinable subject at senior cycle next year.
“The benefits will be far-reaching, including improved health and fitness among young people, raising awareness of physical health, and increasing the range of subjects on offer,” he said.
Next week all post primary schools will receive a circular inviting expressions of interest in offering the subject to their students from September 2018.
It is envisaged that at least 50 schools will be included in this first phase, with the intention that the new Leaving Cert subject will be available as an option to all schools at a later date.
There will be a higher and an ordinary level exam, though a common level will apply for the performance assessment element.
Most marks will go towards the written exam, which will test candidates on PE theory, while the remainder would be based on a physical activity project.
The project should span an eight- to ten-week period and learners will be required to apply their learning as a performer or coach/choreographer in their chosen activity.
This will also be submitted in digital form for grading by the State Examinations Commission.
Minister for Education Richard Bruton said the introduction of the PE exam was part of an overall emphasis that the Government was putting on encouraging healthy lifestyles.
“We know how important it is to be physically active and engage in sports, not only for our physical health but also as a means to encourage team building, develop confidence and for our mental health,” he said.
“The introduction of physical education as an examinable Leaving Certificate subject is in keeping with the strong emphasis the Government has placed on promoting and encouraging healthy lifestyles, and fulfils an important commitment in the Programme for Government and Action Plan for Education, which sets out our ambition to make Ireland’s education system the best in Europe within a decade.”
He said a new senior cycle physical education framework will provide a new modern curriculum for teachers to teach PE to all students at senior cycle.
Adventure education, along with personal and social responsibility, are among the areas covered by the new framework.