Monday 24 October 2016

Physical Education GCSE: How to get an A grade in sport

Paddy O'Reilly introduces Joe Ausena, representing Ed Excel, who will accredit schools.
Paddy O'Reilly introduces Joe Ausena, representing Ed Excel, who will accredit schools.
Students tackle a "mock: written exam
GSCE Day, Trinity CS, Ballymun
Gerry McDonnell explains the written test.
Trying a circuit training session
Trying a circuit training session
Trying a circuit training session.
Lauren Byrne, Ellen McDonagh and Beth Dunne of Trinity Comprehensive.
Explaining the football programme.
GSCE Day, Trinity CS, Ballymun
Judo coach Colin Kiernan
Trying judo with Elanor Gallagher of Trinity Comprehensive.
Trying judo with Eleanor Gallagher of Trinity Comprehensive
Trying judo with Elanor Gallagher of Trinity Comprehensive

About 130 students and a number of interested teachers were in Trinity Comprehensive Ballymun last week for the first of two introductory days to the GCSE in PE course that a number of Irish schools have adopted.

Four years ago, a group of teachers, frustrated at continuing delays in introducing PE as a core subject for the Junior and Leavings Certs,  decided to take action.

They looked to the British system where PE has been part of the GCSE programme for some years and decided to take on the short version of the course, which  takes only a year and  has become a popular choice among students for transition year.

Not only do students  have an opportunity to get fit and learn something new, but at the end of the year, they end up with an internationally recognised qualification.

Among the schools that got involved in those early days were Sutton Park, Ashbourne Community College, St Mary’s Dundalk and Loreto Mullingar as well at Trinity Comprehensive.

“The course is 60 per cent activity and 40 per cent theory and there’s also an interview. When it comes to the activity, you pick two and they can’t be too closely related.

“You don’t have to be a player – you can also opt to be a coach or an official,” explains Paddy O’Reilly, who, with Gerry McDonnell, supervises the course at  Trinity.  Also involved is Chris Steele of Celtic Sports Academy. Because of the link with Northern Ireland, Gaelic games are covered by the GSCE curriculum. Schools can pick their own activities – Holy Child Killiney is opting for netball and orienteering.


Demonstrating the active side of the course was a group of footballers (outdoors) and judo players (indoors). Among the judo instructors was Elanor Gallagher, a student at Trinity Comprehensive.

Fitness training is one of the “sports” that students can decide to adopt  and set out in the gym was a circuit training course, which the students had a chance to try out.  They then took a break and attempted to complete part of last year’s written exam. 

At the end of their year’s study, the students have a practical test with an examiner coming in from England. A week later, they sit the written test.

Overseeing  it all last week was  Joe Asana from ED Excel, the British-based organisation that supervises the course and accredits schools wishing to include  the GCSE in PE  in their curriculum.

“It gives sporty  kids a chance to get accredited in something  they’re good at and we’re getting increasing interest from Ireland,” he says.

A second introductory day is taking place at Trinity Comprehensive on December 9. Further info from Paddy O’Reilly at 086 1743836.

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