Northern Ireland

Primary school sports coaching gets £600,000 in funding

Primary school children playing 'freeze'
Image caption The primary school sports scheme previously cost £1.3m

The Department of Education is to spend £600,000 on a new sports and emotional resilience programme in primary schools.

The scheme will be run by the GAA and Irish Football Association (IFA) in the 2019/20 school year.

The funding is initially for one year and the programme will be focused on pupils aged 7 to 11.

Annual funding of £1.3m for a previous sports programme which employed around 50 GAA and IFA coaches ceased in 2018.

The decision to end the curriculum sports programme provoked criticism from both principals and politicians.

While the new scheme will also involve coaches from the GAA and IFA going into around 300 schools, it is unclear how many will be employed.

'Sustainable programme'

In a joint statement Ulster GAA and the IFA welcomed the funding and said there would be a particular focus on girls.

"The coaching partnership will help develop a life-long love of sport and it is intended that the new programme will have a particular focus on boosting participation among girls," they said.

"It is also proposed that coaches will deliver workshops aimed at increasing emotional resilience in Primary 7 school children ahead of their move to secondary education."

Both bodies also expressed the hope that the scheme would run for more than one year, and said they wanted to create "a long-term, sustainable programme that benefits the health and well-being of school children right across Northern Ireland".

In a statement, the department said that the programme would provide specialist expertise in PE for key stage 2 pupils across Northern Ireland.

"The programme is an exciting opportunity to strengthen and deepen the delivery of the PE curriculum and introduce children to new sports and skills as they approach the transition to post-primary school," they said.

More on this story