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SF Education Spokesperson Jonathan O’Brien voices concerns at downgrading of physical education in school curriculum

9 July, 2013 - by Jonathan O'Brien TD

Sinn Féin education spokesperson, Jonathan O’Brien TD, has said he shares the concerns raised by the Department of Health that plans to reduce the time allocated to physical education (PE) in the state's secondary schools will have an adverse impact on the health of young people.

Deputy O’Brien was responding to an unpublished report by the National Activity Planning Group (NAPG) which warns that new proposals for the junior cert cycle would mean PE being downgraded to “no subject status” under the new revised framework.

He continued: “It would be a very worrying development if Education Minister Ruairí Quinn allowed secondary schools the option of downgrading PE as part of changes that are being made to the junior cert curriculum.

“There is overwhelming evidence to show that children and young people are becoming increasingly overweight with some estimates pointing to the fact that one-in-five children in Ireland are obese.

“Physical education at primary and post-primary level ensures young people are at least getting some regular exercise and it is an important way of curbing the growing levels of obesity and other health related problems such as Diabetes.

“The National Activity Planning Group (NAPG) is made up of experts on obesity and they have raised fears that changes in the curriculum will see physical education “eroded over time.” They have also described as a “major step backwards” the proposal to reduce physical education from 180 hours over the three years of the junior cycle to 100 hours.

“It is also worrying that consideration is being given to allow PE to be taught by unqualified teachers. This will greatly impact on the standard and quality of physical education and exercise being delivered in schools and will result in teenagers becoming even more inactive.”

Note to editors: Deputy O’Brien has table the following for Topical Issues’ Debate:

10 July 2013
To debate the concerns raised by the National Activity Planning Group that Physical Education will be downgraded from 180 hours to 100 hours over the 3 years of the junior cert curriculum and the implications this will have for young people’s health. Deputy Jonathan O’Brien

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