School SportSport in the shape of physical education will become a much more integral part of the education system after plans were revealed yesterday for four of the eight new ‘short courses’ that will lead a new approach to the first state examination.

There is an imaginative mix of competencies suggested as well. Students will need in one part of the course to show an understanding of or competency in three of four sporting disciplines described as athletics, aquatics, court games and invasion games, otherwise known by most as team sports like gaelic football, hurling, soccer, rugby or hockey.

A second strand will involve the lessons of teamwork, problem solving and cooperation that can be easily taught and understood in a sporting environment but which can have transformative impact when transferred to a business or social context.

The third strand revealed is one on movement and covers an understanding of fitness, gymnastic movement and dance.

Students will receive half their marks in the subject from assessment in one of the three areas, though they will be exposed to all three.

The other half will be based on a profile they will build themselves about how sport and physical activity plays an important part in their lives in and out of school and how they have been able to build a programme of activity that will lead to an active, healthy lifestyle.

It is a core element of the importance of sport to society that sporting principles and activities are introduced at an early stage.

The new proposals in this area look to be a strong introduction and will certainly be of benefit to the physical fitness of students.

It will be important to maintain sport as a fun activity as well, and for it not to become in some way tarnished by inclusion in a formal way as part of the school curriculum but that is a challenge for all subjects and one which is often not fully appreciated until many years after the school cycle is complete.

Youth Sport will be a key theme of Sport for Business throughout 2014. We will host a conference on The Business of Youth Sport in June, and launch an imaginative project to raise the engagement of young girls and families with sport that should be important to them through Sport for Daughters early in the year as well.

In our review of Sports Analytics published today we also highlight the need for different computer skills, as part of transition year following the junior cert, to prepare students for a career in the rapidly growing world of sports data and analytics.

The Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport highlighted sport as an exam subject in its ‘end of year report’ last December and said that achieving exam status in schools was an objective for Government. Projects like this are never introduced overnight but in years to come this will be seen as a significant step forward in producing a healthier nation.

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