PE to become Leaving Certificate exam subject from next September

At least 50 schools will be included in a first phase, before the subject is rolled out to all schools

PE to become Leaving Certificate exam subject from next September

Richard Bruton. Photo: Leah Farrell/

Updated 12th December

Secondary schools students will be able to study physical education (PE) as a Leaving Cert subject from September.

It will be introduced to at least 50 schools initially, and will be examined for the first time in 2020.

Secondary schools are being invited to express their interest in taking part in the initial phase, with plans for the new subject to available as an option to all schools in the second phase of the rollout.

The Department of Education says the 'examinable' PE subject will involve a physical activity project, a performance assessment and a written examination.

A new framework for senior cycle physical education will also be introduced, although will not be for examination. It will provide 'a new modern curriculum' for teachers.

The department says coursework assessment will be completed digitally, meaning schools that take part will need access to "computers, [video & photo] recording equipment and a secure storage facility for uploading and storing video and audio files".

Speaking about the new examination, Education Minister Richard Bruton explained: “We know how important it is to be physically active and engage in sports, not only for our physical health but also as a means to encourage team building, develop confidence and for our mental health.

"The introduction of Physical Education as an examinable Leaving Certificate subject is in keeping with the strong emphasis the Government has placed on promoting and encouraging healthy lifestyles.” 

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar added he was 'thrilled' that PE will be a full examinable subject, suggesting that the 'benefits will be far-reaching'.