Dr Sarahjane Belton is a lecturer in physical education at DCU and a former Irish rugby international. “PE has too often been sacrificed for other subjects or if the sports hall is needed for something else. A junior cycle PE curriculum has already been developed and implemented as part of a wellbeing programme and it is compulsory for each child to get a double period of PE per week. It has been hard for principals to timetable but at least the intent is there"
Stephen Moore, president of the PE Association of Ireland, agrees that PE has too often been relegated.
"Until now, there has been no guide for PE teachers. A lot of PE was given by unqualified teachers, often soccer or GAA coaches who were promoting their activity and not placing the necessary emphasis on fundamental movement skills. PE teachers recognised a number of years ago that, because of increasingly sedentary lifestyles, children were not developing the fundamental movement skills – such as catching, hopping, striking and skipping – that form the basis of all physical literacy.”
This step alone will not solve the child obesity issues that we have in Ireland, however it is a very positive step in encouraging physical activity for teenagers.