Fifth year students in 80 schools around the country will be the first to study physical education as an optional Leaving Certificate subject when schools return late August/September. These students will sit the first physical education exam in 2020 which, similar to other optional subjects like music or home economics, will be split between practical and written exams.
The subject can be taken at either higher or ordinary level and the Department of Education has suggested that out of five class periods a week, a double class should be allocated for practical activities.
The theory side of the course is split into two strands; Strand 1 focuses on working toward optimal performance and Strand 2 on contemporary issues in physical activity. Schools will also choose three out of the following six physical activity areas to focus on throughout the two years: personal fitness and exercise, athletics, artistic and aesthetic activities, adventure activities, games, and aquatics. Students will be expected to apply their learning to improve their performance in these areas.
Students will receive their grade based on three separate assessments: a physical activity project, performance assessment and written exam.
The physical activity project will be done over 8-10 weeks and will see the student act as either a performer or coach/choreographer. They must conduct a performance analysis, identify four performance goals and show evidence of training to improve this. They will have to give a concluding analysis and this project will account for 20% of the overall grade.
The performance assessment will be similar to practical exams in music and art. Students will select one of the physical activity areas studied by the class and must demonstrate: the capacity to choose skills/techniques; an understanding of the activity and how to adapt in response to changes; and knowledge of the rules, regulations and codes of practice. This will be worth 30% of the final grade.
The written exam will be taken during the Leaving Certificate examination and will be worth 50%.
Though this is the first year of the programme, uptake appears to be good with official statistics yet to be released. Also yet to be released is information on the full implementation of the course once the pilot programme is finished.
The Leaving Certificate Physical Education specification can be found here.