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Fleming welcomes Primary Schools Sport Programme

11 February, 2008

Derry Sinn Féin Education spokesperson Councillor Paul Fleming has welcomed the recent introduction of the new 'Curriculum Sports programme' by the Education Minister Caitríona Ruane which is aimed at developing physical literacy skills and encouraging participation in sport amongst young children.

The programme 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.

Councillor Fleming 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."

Councillor Fleming 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.

Councillor Fleming 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." ENDS

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