Physical Education

Introductory Statement

The Physical Educational Plan for Ballyleague NS was formulated in consultation with the teachers and BOM of the school, following school based consultative planning, and attendance at Active School Flag planning day. This plan was drawn up to develop a framework that reflects the aims and objectives outlined in the Primary School Curriculum. Ballyleague a three teacher school in a rural setting in which P.E. is deemed of paramount importance. The school has recently installed a new astra-turf soccer pitch which will enhance the teaching of P.E. in the school.


This plan endeavours to record good practice in physical education and conforms to the principals of the curriculum statements on P.E.


P.E. in our school will:
1. Emphasise the importance of enjoyment of play.
2. Maximise participation by all children.
3. Encourage the development of skills and understanding.
4. Maintain a balance between competitive and non-competitive activities.
5. Maintain a balance between contact and non- contact activities.
6. Provide opportunities for individual sports.
7. Provide opportunities for achievement for each child.
8. Provide activities equally suitable for boys and girls.

Ballyleague N.S.will endeavour to cover the aquatics strand from First Class to Sixth class throughout the school.


Vision and Aims

  • Vision

In our school we recognise the potential of each child in our care and endeavour to develop the qualities which make each child unique within a caring school community.  We seek to assist the children in our school in achieving their potential.  Physical education provides children with learning opportunities through the medium of movement and contributes to their overall development by helping them to lead full, active and healthy lives.

  • Aims

We endorse the aims and objectives of the Primary School Curriculum for P.E.

  • To promote the physical, social, emotional and intellectual development of the child

  • To develop positive personal qualities

  • To help in the acquisition of an appropriate range of movement skills in a variety of contexts

  • To promote understanding and knowledge of the various aspects of movement

  • To develop an appreciation of movement and the sue of the body as an instrument of expression and creativity

  • To promote enjoyment of, and positive attitudes towards, physical activity and its contribution of lifelong health-related fitness, thus preparing the child for the active and purposeful use of leisure time.

The broad objectives of the Physical Education plan have been considered.

  1. Strands and Strand Units

Teachers are familiar with the six strands of the P.E. Curriculum:

  • Athletics

  • Dance

  • Gymnastics

  • Games

  • Outdoor and Adventure Activities

  • Aquatics strand units.

Teachers will familiarise themselves with the content objectives for the class level they are teaching and indeed all levels to ensure continuity and progression.  We refer to the curriculum document as follows:

  • Infant classes pp. 16-23

  • First and Second Classes pp. 24-34

  • Third and Fourth Classes pp. 38-46

  • Fifth and Sixth Classes pp. 48-59

  • Aquatics: Junior Infants – Sixth Classes pp. 62-64

All children, where possible, given that we have no indoor PE facilities, will have access to all strands each year.  Aquatics will be implemented in blocks of 8 weeks at Roscommon Swimming Pool during the school year.  Depending on pupils numbers Aquatics may be offered to pupils from first to sixth or if numbers are extremely large, Aquatics will be offered to pupils from second to sixth classes.  It was decided at Ballyleague N.S. that we would not devote as much time to Dance and Gymnastics as we do to Games, Athletics and Outdoor and Adventure Activities, in accordance with existing PE facilities and Teachers Guidelines.

  • Consideration is given to the fact that there is a very strong GAA tradition in the area. GAA coaches will train the children for one hour per week to a maximum of ten weeks at appropriate times during the school year. Depending on pupil numbers, and the weather, children from 2nd class up may participate and will be encouraged to develop their skills.

  • Some of our Gymnastics lessons will concentrate on outdoor work, and are also determined by the experience of the teachers.

  • We will also refer to the action plan for implementing Athletics, Dance, Gymnastics and Games.

  • We will ensure there is continuity and progression from class to class by:

    -  Developing appropriate warm-up activities for indoor and outdoor work at each level

       with strand specific mobility, strengthening and flexibility exercises appropriate to each class level.   

   -   We will record the content covered at each level which will briefly detail the level of engagement with each strand (Cúntas               MiosÚil).

2.  Approaches and Methodologies


At Ballyleague N.S. teachers are in agreement that a combination of the following approaches will ensure successful teaching and learning.

  • Direct teaching approach involving the teacher telling or showing the children what to do and in observing their progress.

  • Guided discovery approach involves the teacher designing a series of questions and offers the children the opportunity to make decisions, solve problems or take initiative. The children explore and experiment.

  • Integration

  • Individual, pair, group and team play

  • Station teaching (to teach a specific skill and to enable the children to experience a variety of activities in the PE lesson).

 3. Assessment and record keeping

Assessment is an integral part of teaching and learning, informing our teaching, assisting in planning and providing information on what children have learning and how they learn.  This information is collected as part of a continuing part of the teaching process in P.E.  The primary form of assessment in our school for P.E. is teacher observation.  It involves the informal monitoring of children’s progress at the actual learning takes place.  Teacher observation will focus on:

  • the response a child makes when set to a task

  • the response the child makes to the teacher’s questions and suggestions

  • the participation of the child individually, in group or as part of the class

  • the interaction of the child with others when involved in group work

  • the understanding displayed by the child when engaged in an activity

  • the skill level displayed by the child across the strand units

Teacher-designed tasks also provide opportunities to practice skills, encourage creativity, gather knowledge of activities and promote questioning and discussion.  Simultaneously their responses indicate their progress in P.E.  A wide variety of tasks related to individual strands will be used.  Some tasks will be completed in a short time, for instance the standing long jump, while other tasks may require a number of lessons to complete, for example creating and performing a short dance.

Each child’s progress is recorded in the end of year report, a copy which is kept in the child’s file.  Class teachers record pupils’ assessment results and share this information with relevant bodies i.e. parents at parent teacher meetings, pupils and the previous or following class teacher.

4. Multi-class teaching

In multi-grade settings children will be encouraged to:

-  work individually or with a partner,

– complete different activities, appropriate to different stages of development, while using the same equipment and play area.

-  participate in station teaching method to facilitate group work, teacher remains at one station while children at other stations           complete a pre-described activity. Older children will follow task cards for the stations and read the instructions.

-  participate in mixed ability groups, where more competent children will encourage less able children while completing a                   differentiated activity, to challenge them at their own level.

-  Follow-up activities to a basic lesson can be introduced, where one group has an opportunity to practice again what was                  covered  in the basic lesson, while the other group moves ahead and develops further the content of the basic lesson.                     E.g. Strand: Games, Strand Unit: Sending, Receiving and Travelling.

Group 1:  Pass and follow activity

Group 2:  Pass and run in a different direction – “Three headed monster” or “Free hoop”. When possible, support personnel provided by sports or dance organisations may be used to help with group teaching.  

5. Children with different needs

 As P.E. is an essential part of the curriculum for all children, the programme will offer each child the widest possible range of experiences.

  • A safe and secure environment will be provided for P.E. appropriate to the child with special needs. Teachers support and ensure the participation of children with special needs by planning activities accordingly, varying the pace, applying different levels of difficulty, content and methodologies to ensure learning for all pupils.  Grouping children by ability, for example in station activities or small-sided versions of a game, children with different needs can be more active in a game if they are playing with children of similar ability.  The help of the S.N.A. is invaluable in P.E.  We will also refer to the Draft Guidelines for Teachers of Students with General Learning Difficulties produced by the N.C.C.A

  • Children with exceptional ability/talent for P.E. will be encouraged and supported by acknowledging their talents and creating additional challenges for these children in the strands of the P.E. curriculum they excel in. These challenges will be based on the activity being pursued by the rest of the class.  In addition, the children will be encouraged to maximise their talent by forging links with local clubs (if links have not been established already) so the child(ren) can bring their talent to a higher level.  The children with exceptional ability will, on occasion, be encouraged to assist their classmates in achieving proficiency in the activities they are undertaking.

  • All children will be encouraged to participate in all P.E. activities through the use of co-operative fun activities. We will also give encouragement and acknowledge good effort wherever possible.  Our main aim is to set activities close to each child’s ability level but at the same time challenging them to improve their performance.  Reasonable targets will be set for all children at individual, pair and small group levels.

6. Equality of participation and access

  • In planning for P.E. we are going to pay attention to the following areas in order to promote gender equity throughout the physical education curriculum.

  •  All children from infants to sixth class, unless physically unable, shall have equal access to participate in all strands of the curriculum with possible exception of swimming, which may depending on pupil numbers and transport logistics be offered from first to sixth class .

  • We will provide equal access for all children to physical education equipment and facilities and the use of the playground during breaks will be incorporated as an integral part of the school’s programme i.e. one particular group or class will not be allowed unlimited access to larger yard areas. The astro-turf pitch, basket ball court and green areas will be timetabled on a class rota basis during play time.

  • Whole school participation in the Active Flag Programme for PE will be implemented on a tri-annual basis.

  • When grouping children for physical education the school will endeavour not to group children solely on the basis of gender whenever possible.

  • As a staff we will help children to build positive attitudes towards all activities.

  • We will take into account the needs of girls and boys when promoting the health related fitness of children.

  • We will enter both boys and girls teams in inter-school competitions and where necessary (if we have sufficient numbers) we will take the opportunity to enter mixed teams.

  • Where children are experiencing difficulty, due to disadvantage, with swimming fees or outdoor and adventure activity costs, the principal will be informed and provision made where possible.

7. Linkage and integration

(Refer to Curriculum p13, 18, 37, pp 45-47 Teacher Guidelines)

  • Linkage and integration

Teachers will plan for opportunities for linkage and integration in P.E.  Many of the broad objectives of P. E. such as the development of self-esteem, confidence, and initiative are shared with other subjects.  P.E. can be integrated with English, Gaeilge, Geography, Art, Music, Mathematics and especially SPHE.  The development of other curricular areas can likewise be enriched through a programme of P.E. that is broad and balanced.  Playground games may be planned as part of an athletics or games unit.  See appendix 2 for more detailed examples.

  • Language

The effective use of questioning from the teacher will develop the vocabulary associated with P.E.  Allowing the children to analyse their own performance will allow them understand and appreciate the activities of P.E. better and thus physically educate themselves in a more meaningful way – as opposed to something that just happens with time.

Organisational Planning

 8. Timetable

One hour per week has been allocated as the minimum time allotted for P.E.  Discretionary curriculum time “affords the teacher and the school the flexibility to accommodate different school needs and circumstances and to provide for the differing aptitudes of the children it serves.  It can be allocated at the teacher’s and school’s discretion, to any of the six curriculum areas” – P.E. being one of the curricular areas.  This school will use its discretionary time for the weeks of the pool-based activities undertaken to facilitate the Aquatics programme in the school – in order to cover the time travelling to and from the pool.

Teachers may consider splitting the one hour allocation into two half-hour periods as this provides the children with an opportunity to be active on at least two occasions per week.


Blocked time has been allocated for visits to the swimming pool to develop the pool based aspects of the Aquatics strand.  Each class get an eight week block at the pool each year. Swimming may be offered to pupils from first to sixth class depending on pupil numbers. If numbers are very large for pool to accommodate lessons will be offered from second to sixth. The contribution of the Parents Association is acknowledged, who subsidise, transport costs.

Games, Outdoor Adventure Activities:

The Games, Outdoor and Adventure activities and Athletics strands are done at a time when it is hoped the weather will be fine and will allow the P.E. lessons to be based outside.  School grounds may be used for Orienteering activities, and visits to regional Outdoor Activity Centres will be facilitated during school tours in the summer term.

Sports Day:

In the summer term of each year we have a Sports Day.  The emphasis is not on competitiveness, but on maximum participation and enjoyment in a variety of activities.  We will include opportunities for traditional Sports Day races e.g. 100m sprint, relay races, etc., for children wishing to compete, and at the same time have a variety of fun games encompassing as many strands of the P.E. curriculum as possible e.g. co-operative games, teachers v. pupils football match, athletics activities, orienteering activities, egg and spoon race, etc.

Pre-Tennis Coaching Skills:

A period of six weeks may be blocked during Games Strand in the Autumn term for pre-tennis coaching skills for classes from first to third,which involve individual, pair, team work in the development of a range of skills, incorporating elements of Games and Athletics strand.

Soccer Coaching:

Soccer coaching is generally offered to the senior classes in the second half of Autumn term.

Gaelic Coaching:

Gaelic coaching is offered during the first part of the Autumn term and again in the final term to the middle and senior classes depending on pupil numbers.

Basketball Coaching:

Basketball coaching may be offered to middle and senior classes in the summer term.

Active School Flag:

Ballyleague N.S. will commence participation in the Active School Flag programme in the school year 2016/17. It is the intention of the school staff to continue with this programme on a bi-annual basis hereafter.

An important element of this project will be Active School Week which will be held during the summer term and which will incorporate as many strands of the PE curriculum as possible, foster enjoyment, participation throughout the school community.


DEAR – Drop Everything and Run will be implemented 2/3 times weekly for five minutes, by class teacher in a six week block of time, termly.


September – October           November- December         January – March            April – June

Games                                   Dance                                    Aquatics                           Games

Athletics                                 Gymnastics/Games               Gymnastics/Dance           Athletics

                                                                                                                                     Outdoor and Adventure Activities]

9.  Code of ethics

We will at all times refer to Ballyleague N.S. Child Protection Policy based on the Department of Education and Science guidelines accompanying the “Children First” guidelines.  We will also refer to the SPHE guidelines.

Coaches are used to support the class teacher in the implementation of some aspects of the Games strand, namely Gaelic football, Soccer, Pre-Tennis coaching skills, Basketball skills on a rotational basis during the year.

They will not replace the class teacher and ultimate responsibility for the class lies with the class teacher.  The class teacher will in turn support the coach on certain occasions when this will lead to maximum benefit for the children in the class.

Dance teachers, may also be used to provide the children to experiment with traditional Irish dance, modern dance, etc.

There is a code of ethics in the school with regard to coaching by outside personnel where procedures and good practices are outlined e.g. appropriate language and behaviour.  Any coaches working in the school context will be expected to adhere to the Code of Ethics of Irish Sport, produced by the Irish Sports Council.


Any coaches working within the school will be required to have provided evidence of compliance with up to date Garda Vetting procedures.

10. School Competitions and Leagues


The school will participate in the following:

Cumann na mBunscoil Football

I.N.T.O. Mini Sevens

FAIS School Soccer Competitions

Inter Schools Athletics Competitions

Community Games Sport Competitions

When travelling to sporting venues for competition, pupils will be required to behave in accordance with instructions from class teacher, and adhere to Ballyleague N.S. Code of Discipline and Positive Behaviour Policy. Pupils will also be required to follow Healthy Eating Policy with regard to school lunches. Pupils are prohibited from bringing camera phones or technological devices on school outings.

Extra-curricular programme links with local sporting and athletic associations will be fostered which involve competitive activities, and it is hoped that these links will reflect and support the aims and objectives of the P.E. curriculum.

11. Equipment and ICT

See Appendix 4 for an inventory of equipment and resources available for P.E. at Ballyleague N.S.

- The equipment is stored in the shed.

- Jerseys and some footballs are stored in the senior classroom.

- The equipment is appropriate to the P.E. curriculum and is available to all teachers.

- Equipment is purchased following consultation with staff, and teachers are encouraged to request items that are required or deemed suitable.

I.C.T. can be used to supplement and research specific areas within the P.E. curriculum.  The internet contains a wealth of knowledge and information on many aspects of sport.

-  The GAA website for example, provides information on the history of Gaelic games, sports results and club activities.

– Children may research national and international sportspeople who provide them with positive role models.

-  ICT such as Go Noodle will be used to support implementation of PE programme throughout the school

– ICT will be used to record, celebrate PE activities on the school blog as appropriate.

-  There is a code of practice in place in Ballyleague N.S. to ensure safe internet usage.  Teachers may use ICT to design                   materials e.g. control cards etc., for orienteering.

12. Health and Safety

Ballyleague N.S. has a comprehensive Health and Safety Policy in place.  Certain issues pertain to P.E. specifically.

  • Teachers must remember to warm-up at the start of all physical activity and cool-down afterwards.

  • Exercise caution when practicing in a confined space

  • Use equipment correctly. The equipment used will be suitable in size, weight and design to the age, strength and ability of the child and be of good quality and in good repair.  Damaged apparatus should never be used and damages reported to principal.

  • Children will be taught how to lift and carry all P.E. equipment safely also.

  • Appropriate and sufficient supervision on visits out of school, on buses, in changing rooms, etc., follow school policy guidelines.

  • Appreciate the dangers of water and understand basic hygiene procedures.

  • Teachers must be aware if there is a medical condition which may affect children’s safety during P.E. activities

  • All children have to wear suitable footwear and clothing during a PE lesson. Children will not be allowed wear jewellery deemed to interfere with personal safety during a PE lesson. Please refer to Ballyleague NS Code of Discipline and Positive Behaviour Policy.

  • Should an accident occur in the PE lesson we will follow the procedures outlined for other accidents in our Health and Safety Policy.

  • Inspection of school grounds prior to all outdoor activities and orienteering.

  • Best practice is safe practice and the teacher should ensure that the children understand that the rules and procedures are there for their safety.

  • We will endeavour to have an appropriate surface for the activities in the PE lesson.

  • The good working relationship between the teacher and the group is the most important factor in fostering a safe learning environment.

The First Aid Kit is kept in the staffroom and is restocked regularly.  Contents of this kit may be brought on occasions where children are participating in PE outside the school grounds.  The medical conditions of all children are detailed by their parents/guardians on the school enrolment form.  These are then transferred to a central file and teachers need to be vigilant of any cases whereby children may need medical attention.  Teachers will not treat a child unless it will make the difference between life and death.  Their parents/guardians will be contacted and if necessary, their family doctor as outlined on the aforementioned enrolment form.

13. Individual Teachers’ Planning and Reporting

The whole school plan and the curriculum documents for PE will provide information and guidance to the teachers for their long and short term planning.  While these documents are vital for planning, it is important that teachers adapt the PE Plan to the class level and experience. Teachers will plan individually while also ensuring that their class plans co-ordinate with the whole PE school plan.  Teachers will plan using the strands and strand units, and use a wide range of methods and approaches as outlined in the P.E. policy.

Teachers will record progress across the various PE strands in the Cuntas Míosúil.

14. Staff development

 Teachers are supported, where possible, by the Board of Management to develop their range of skills and expertise in P.E.  Attendance at courses is promoted and the sharing of knowledge and skills facilitated at staff meetings or at school planning days teachers talented in P.E. are invited to lead workshops in particular strands at staff meetings or at other times suitable to staff members. The school will engage with PDST, local Education Centre, and local Sporting Clubs to support implementation of PE programme in the school.

15. Parental Involvement

Parents are encouraged to be involved in supporting the P.E. plan and its implementation.  We will ask all parents to support their children to participate in all strands of the P.E. curriculum.  We will ask parents with recognised areas of expertise in the area of P.E. and/or Sport to support us in our efforts if their talents will be of benefit.  We will encourage sporting endeavour at all times.

In order to implement swimming lessons and to partake in school sport, we may need the assistance of parents in transporting their children to sporting events and helping with supervision.  As with any curricular plan in the school, parents can inspect it in the office.  Parents will be informed, by letter, of swimming arrangements and requirements in advance of upcoming outdoor and adventure pursuits.  Parents are invited to football matches, league finals, etc.

16. Community Links

Members of the local G.A.A., Athletics Club, Soccer Club and Roscommon Swimming Pool support the P.E. programme of Ballyleague N.S. by providing coaches and guiding the children to membership of local clubs that can develop their talents and these links are welcomed by the school.  The principal and teachers will liaise with agencies that can assist, as appropriate, the school’s programme for P.E.

School Development Links with Local Clubs:

If a local team or individual from the Community has had sporting success, they will be invited to the school to share their success with the local children.


  • Roles and Responsibility:

It is the responsibility of each class teacher to plan and source materials relevant to the teaching of this programme. Through staff meetings, whole school consultative planning, and prioritisation of needs and resources, implementation of effective teaching methodologies, which feed in to this plan will contribute to its effectiveness and success.

  • Each class teacher will conduct a review of the PE equipment required for the implementation of the PE programme and an updated inventory of equipment will be carried out within the next few weeks.

  • Arrangements will be made by the principal to augment or replace equipment if required

  • Timeframe:

 This policy will be implemented with immediate effect in the current school year 2016/2017

 Review: This policy will be reviewed in June 2019.

Success Criteria

The success of this plan will be measured using the following criteria:

  • Implementation of the P.E. curriculum will be evident in teachers’ work and pupils’ engagement

  • Continuity of content and development of skills will be evident in teachers’ preparation and monthly reports

  • On-going assessment and record keeping will show that pupils are learning and developing skills and growing in understanding and appreciation of the six strands in P.E.

  • Teachers preparation will be based on this plan and procedures outlined consistently followed

Means of assessing the outcomes of the plan include

  • Teachers/parent/community feedback

  • Children’s feedback regarding the activity level, enjoyment and skill development of the classes

  • The importance of enjoyment and play

  • Maximum participation by all children

  • The development of skills and understanding

  • A balance between competitive and non-competitive activities

  • A balance between contact and non-contact activities

  • Providing opportunities for achievement for each child

  • Providing activities equally suitable for boys and girls

 Ratification and Communication:

As this is a whole-school policy, each teacher will have access to a copy. This policy can also be accessed by staff on computer. The policy will be made available on the school blog. This policy is available in hard copy to parents on request.

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