Irish Government plans to increase physical education spending by 6 per cent
The Government has announced plans to boost physical education by 6.5 per cent in the coming financial year.
The figures are in response to growing demands from students and parents for more physical education.
More than 3,000 students from a range of age groups have written to the Department of Education asking for the increase, which will be funded through a new school levy, which takes effect from the end of 2019.
They have included many in the most vulnerable groups, such as disabled children, parents with children with intellectual disabilities, and those who have low incomes.
The new levy will take effect from March 2018.
Last week, the Department for Education confirmed that it would increase physical-education spending by 3 per cent next financial year and by 8 per cent the following year.
The Department for Physical Education said that this increase would be paid for by a 2.5-per-cent levy on physical education products, including uniforms, uniforms with school logos, school uniforms, school-issued uniforms and uniforms for schools.
This levy will also be paid by increased contributions from businesses, and by the levy on school equipment, which it said would contribute to funding increases of 5 per cent each.
It said that while it was unlikely to be sufficient to meet the needs of all pupils, the levy would allow the Government to focus on increasing physical education expenditure, which is now at an all-time high.
The department said that the levy was designed to ensure schools have the funds to offer more physical and physical education opportunities for pupils and staff, and that it was part of a wider plan to provide more resources to schools to ensure that they provide physical education to all pupils.
“The levy will support schools to provide physical and/or physical education for all pupils in the state, regardless of their socio-economic status, age, sex, race, disability, or any other factor,” the department said.
It said it was also looking at introducing a levy on the cost of school uniforms for pupils, as part of its overall plan to support schools’ investment in physical education and provide support to teachers.
The levy has been criticised by the parents of students with intellectual and developmental disabilities, who say it will not support their children to be able to attend school.
According to a recent poll by the National Federation of Teachers, almost a quarter of those with intellectual disability in Ireland said they would not attend school if the levy were increased.
Other critics of the levy include parents of children with disabilities, including children with autism, who argue it will make schools less accessible to students with special needs.