Only half of all secondary schools have a gym, say school heads who are concerned that not all schools will be able to offer PE as a Leaving Certificate subject because of the lack of facilities, RTÉ reports.


The principals also worry that schools will have to fundraise for such facilities, following the Minister for Education Richard Bruton's announcement yesterday.


The National Association for Principals and Deputy Principals (NAPD) carried out a survey in 2015 which found that among secondary schools with gyms, only a quarter of the facilities had been fully State-funded. Almost half of secondary school gym facilities were built using only private funds raised by the schools themselves.


The NAPD argue that many schools lack the facilities or the equipment to teach PE as a Leaving Cert subject. They say that it is of the utmost importance that all schools be given the financial support necessary for them to offer PE as a Leaving Cert subject.



The Department of Education is inviting schools to apply to participate in the pilot phase of this new subject, which will be marked as a Leaving Cert subject in 2020. The Department told RTÉ News that only schools with 'good sporting facilities' will be eligible.


There will be three sections to the new subject, including a written exam, a physical activity project, and a performance assessment.


Pupils will be awarded CAO points for sports including rugby, rowing, tennis, rock climbing, swimming and jazz dance.


While we applaud the call for more physical activity amongst our youngsters, many children will miss out on the opportunity to take this subject if proper facilities are not available.



The NAPD director, Clive Byrne, has said that the State needs to ensure that this subject does not only become available to schools with the best funding. He said that funding should be available so that the subject can be implemented in all secondary schools. 


Currently, the NAPD says that some schools are shelling out up to €7,000 each year from their already tight budgets to hire gym facilities. The NAPD has also expressed concern over the shortage of secondary school teachers and how that may limit schools' ability to teach the subject.


According to RTÉ, the Department of Education says that it believes there is a sufficient amount of qualified PE teachers. There are 2,300 PE teachers registered with the Teaching Council at this point in time. The Department thinks there may be more qualified PE teachers out there who are simply registered under a different subject.


What do you think of PE as a Leaving Cert subject, mums? Does your child's school have sufficient gym facilities?