Half of our schools don't have proper PE facilities
Only half of secondary schools have a full-sized PE hall, and others are paying up to €7,000 a year to hire one.
One school has been waiting for 16 years to get money for one from the Department of Education, it has emerged.
And the frustration of principals and boards of management over the issue is compounded when inspectors recommend that a school with no facilities should boost its PE provision.
These are among the findings of a recent survey by the Joint Managerial Body (JMB) among over 400 voluntary secondary schools - those traditionally run by the religious.
Big differences emerged in terms of how PE halls were funded, with 28pc fully paid for by the State, 27pc partially funded by the State and 45pc completely funded by the school.
JMB general secretary Ferdia Kelly said the fact that almost half of schools didn't have proper PE facilities meant that they could not adequately provide for one of the most fundamental aspects of a young person's development from both a physical and mental health perspective.
Speaking ahead of the JMB annual conference, he said there was a huge variation in the level of State funding, which meant that the amount of money raised by many schools, with the support of parents, local communities, and/or religious congregations had been enormous.
Mr Kelly said among schools that did not have a full-size PE facility, or whose halls were in need of repair, many were paying up to €7,000 a year to hire halls, and additional money to transport pupils to and from them, where necessary.
He said boards of management and principals were very frustrated that school inspection reports may strongly recommend the employment of PE teachers and the provision of double PE classes for all class groups irrespective of whether the school has a hall or not.
A Department of Education spokesperson said it fully recognised the key role of physical exercise within the school environment and continued to respond to the need to improve facilities for all pupils, within the constraints of available funding.
The spokesperson said the PE curriculum had been designed on the basis that facilities in schools may vary.
"Many post-primary schools have a PE hall and practically all have outdoor play areas while many use adjacent local facilities, including public parks, playing fields and swimming pools," the spokesperson said.