Now Leaving Cert students can get CAO points in sport, dance
Second-level pupils entering fifth year in September will be the first to get marks in the Leaving Certificate - and CAO points - for performance in sport, dance or other physical activity.
The long-awaited Leaving Cert subject of Physical Education (PE) is being introduced, initially to about 50 to 60 schools next autumn, and will be examined for the first time in 2020.
Assessment will take three forms, including student performance in their chosen discipline, for which 30pc of the marks will be available.
The range of activities open to candidates covers a breadth that includes swimming, rock climbing, rowing, running, tennis, rugby, cricket, hurling, gymnastics and jazz dance.
While performance will be one criterion for success, there will also be emphasis on development of skills such as leadership and organisation, with learners able to demonstrate talents in non-playing roles of coach/choreographer.
Some 20pc of marks will be allocated for a physical activity project and the remaining 50pc will be available for a written exam. Sports psychology, skill techniques, diet and nutrition, ethics and fair play, drugs and sport, and media in sport will be among the areas studied.
As well as a subject that students can take in their exams, a new general Senior Cycle PE programme is also being phased in from next September for all fifth and sixth-year pupils.
An invitation is going out to schools today seeking applications for the first phase of the roll-out of the new curricula, from September. Other schools will be covered in the second phase.
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said he was thrilled that PE would be a full examinable subject and said the benefits would be far-reaching, including raising awareness of physical health and improved fitness.
Education Minister Richard Bruton said it was important to be physically active and engage in sports, not only for physical health but as a means to encourage team-building, develop confidence and for mental health.
For the physical activity project, students will have a choice of six broad areas from which to choose: athletics; artistic and aesthetic; adventure activities; games; aquatics; personal exercise and fitness. Local school circumstances may limit choice.
They will select one activity from three of those areas - for example lifesaving (aquatics), basketball (games) and orienteering (adventure activities). Students may choose to complete the project as a performer or as a coach/choreographer and will have to show, in digital format, how they applied their learning to improve their own performance.
Candidates will choose a different one of their three activities for the performance assessment. The student's performance will be captured digitally in a school setting and assessed by the State Examinations Commission.