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Ruane launches Primary Schools Sport Programme

12 November, 2007

Sinn Féin Education Minister Caitríona Ruane has officially launched the new 'Curriculum Sports programme', aimed at developing physical literacy skills and encouraging participation in sport amongst young children.

The programme, which will see coaches from the Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA) and Irish Football Association (IFA) work with children between the ages of four and eight in schools, was launched today at the Queen's Physical Education Centre in Belfast.

During her visit, the minister observed coaching sessions with Primary 4 pupils from Castle Gardens PS, Newtownards, Holy Trinity PS, Turf Lodge, Oakwood Integrated PS, Dunmurry and Scoil na Fuiseoige, Twinbrook, who will all be benefiting from participating in the scheme.

Speaking after meeting the coaches and children, the minister underlined the significance of the programme and said:

"Much has been said about high levels of inactivity among young children and the associated problems of childhood obesity. One of the main reasons for this, I believe, has been the decision of many children to 'opt out' of physical activity.

"This programme will focus on developing the physical literacy skills of our youngest children through Gaelic games or soccer, giving them a firm foundation on which to build in future years. They may continue playing these sports as they grow and develop or they may move into other sporting areas. The key point is that we will be developing in them an enthusiasm for sport that they will take with them as they grow. There is also a strong emphasis in this programme on boosting the confidence and enjoyment of primary teachers in their approach to teaching Physical Education."

Ms Ruane went on to highlight that the programme would also complement the roll-out of the revised curriculum in primary schools and that the benefits would not purely be physical.

Ms Ruane continued:

"This programme not only has the potential to benefit the teaching of Physical Education but also other areas of the curriculum and I commend the work of the GAA and IFA in developing a programme with strong cross-curricular links. This will help cement the benefits that being physically active will have for pupils' concentration, confidence and motivation and support our drive to raise standards in literacy and numeracy.

"I believe this programme can provide a springboard for our children to develop a life-long interest in sport, whilst helping them to learn across other curricular areas."

As part of the programme, teachers will work alongside the specialist coaches to plan, deliver and review the courses and will follow aspects through into class work and homework projects.

Any schools interested in finding out more information about the programme can phone the GAA on 028 3752 1900 or the IFA on 028 9066 9458

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