18 December, 2018 - Minister welcomes engagement of GAA with new Leaving Certificate Physical Education subject

The Minister for Education and Skills Joe McHugh TD today welcomed the engagement of the GAA with the new Leaving Certificate Physical Education subject.

Today, the GAA announced the launch of a new web-based resource which it developed in association with the Camogie Association and Ladies Football Gaelic Association. The website aims to support teachers and students with teaching and learning in the new Leaving Certificate subject.

Some 64 post-primary schools across the country are participating in a first phase rollout of Leaving Certificate PE. Fifth year students in these schools commenced the subject in September 2018 and they will complete the Leaving Certificate examination in the subject in 2020. From the start of the 2020/21 school year, all schools who wish to offer PE as a Leaving Certificate subject will be able to do so.  

The aim of the new subject is to develop a student’s capacity to become an informed, skilled, self-directed and reflective participant in physical education and physical activity in senior cycle and for the rest of their life.

The 64 schools in the first phase of Leaving Cert PE have the Department’s support service, the Professional Development Service for Teachers (PDST) to guide and advise them in introducing the new subject. The PDST has prepared a comprehensive continuous professional development programme for teachers and principals in these schools which commenced earlier this year and will continue over the coming two years.

Speaking at the launch of the GAA support material, Minister McHugh said: “The GAA deserve great credit for showing the initiative here to set up this online resource. The enthusiasm and their engagement with the Camogie and Ladies Gaelic Football Associations in order to create this resource is another fine example of the GAA being ahead of the game.

“It’s a big positive when you see an organisation with the reach and influence of the GAA taking the initiative to offer extra resources for teachers and students and provide really valuable back-up to the dedicated supports being provided by the Department of Education and Skills for schools who have begun the Leaving Certificate PE course.

“Sport, exercise and PE is so important for our overall wellbeing, not just our physical health. As well as all of the benefits from fitness, the ability to participate in sports is a fantastic way to build someone’s confidence and teamwork skills.” 


Notes for Editors

Leaving Certificate Physical Education (examinable subject) and a Framework for Senior Cycle Physical Education (not examined) commenced Phase 1 implementation in September 2018. As part of Phase 1, 64 schools are implementing Leaving Certificate Physical Education and 40 schools are implementing the Framework for Senior Cycle Physical Education. 25 of these schools are implementing both the examinable subject and the Framework. From September 2020 all schools that wish to introduce the subject can do so.

The support material being launched today by the GAA, on its website www.gaa.lcpe.ie, can be used by schools who are introducing the new subject, to supplement curriculum and training material developed by the National Council for Curriculum and Assessment (NCCA) and the Department’s Professional Development Support Service for Teachers (PDST).


  • Leaving Certificate Physical Education

Leaving Certificate Physical Education is a new examinable subject for Leaving Certificate examination. The first examination will take place in 2020. All schools who wish to do so will be able to offer the subject from September 2020, for examination from 2022.

There are two strands to the subject specification. In Strand 1, students learn about different theoretical perspectives that impact on optimum performance, and how to apply this understanding to a range of different activities. In Strand 2, students learn about contemporary issues in physical activity and how different people experience physical activity and sport.

  • Strand 1 Topics:
  • Learning and improving skill and techniques
  • Physical and psychological demands of performance
  • Structures, strategies, roles and conventions
  • Planning for optimum performance.

  • Strand 2 Topics:
  • Promoting physical activity
  • Ethics and fair play
  • Physical activity and inclusion
  • Technology, media and sport
  • Gender and physical activity
  • Business and enterprise in physical activity and sport.

The specification for the subject is designed to be taught in a minimum of 180 hours. Learning associated with the specification may occur in practical settings beyond the school.


  • Framework for Senior Cycle Physical Education

The Framework for Senior Cycle Physical Education provides a structure for PE teachers to plan a broad and worthwhile programme in PE for students. The aim of the Framework is to encourage learners’ confident, enjoyable and informed participation in physical activity while in senior cycle and in their future lives. It will enable students to engage in meaningful learning through their engagement with the various curriculum models and hopefully create a pathway for lifelong involvement in physical activity


The Framework contains six curriculum models:

  • Health-Related Physical Activity
  • Sport Education
  • Contemporary Issues in Physical Activity
  • Adventure Education
  • Personal and Social Responsibility