Physical Education Should Be Leaving Cert Subject - FG

Physical education should be added to the Leaving Certificate curriculum in an effort to ensure that children are involved in physical activity right through their school years.

Making the call, Fine Gael senator Catherine Noone, said: "The fact is that students need a more formalised physical education structure, and the statistics show that they would benefit from a structured Leaving Certificate PE programme, and indeed from further physical education right throughout school. Teachers also support further physical education in schools, with 80% of secondary school teachers agreeing with compulsory PE, according to a survey carried out by Aviva.

"We know from previous studies that approximately two hours per week of physical education is needed to stave off childhood obesity. Indeed, a Safefood Ireland survey has shown that 90% of parents believe 30 minutes of school time should be devoted to PE every day.

"Irish children are getting just over half the EU average of 109 minutes of physical education per week, so a formalised physical education programme would go some way to improving this.

"Research undertaken in the United States has shown that daily exercise of up to 45 minutes can make it easier to learn. The school in California showed that test scores rose along with the fitness level of the child. In another school for boys with behavioural problems consistent daily exercise and PE classes resulted in an 83% drop in discipline problems. This highlights that there really is a case to be made for physical education on a formalised basis right through secondary school.

"I think this is a positive proposal and I really hope we see something concrete put forward sooner rather than later, as obesity among teenagers and young adults is a serious issue. Childhood obesity has been a ticking time bomb for our health system for a number of years. Serious preventative action is needed to prevent this and introducing PE as a Leaving Cert subject would be one vital step in the right direction."


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