The Framework for senior cycle physical education is structured around six curriculum models. Curriculum models are theme-based and reflect a specific philosophy about what is most important in physical education. Each model provides a detailed map for decision-making about teaching and learning. This map focuses on a detailed approach, including a rationale, planning, implementation and assessment functions. The learner is the central consideration when planning using the models with due regard to the resources available in the school. While each model provides a unique set of learning experiences, it is up to the physical education teacher to decide which models will be included in their physical education curriculum in senior cycle. As teachers build their familiarity with the models, it is envisaged that a greater range of models will be included.
The six curriculum models are as follows:
The unique characteristics of a curriculum model are referred to as the core elements. These core elements include the content and the teaching strategies that are seen as being central to providing learners with an authentic and worthwhile experience of a particular model.
Each model can be used as ‘stand-alone’ or combined with other models. In some instances, a teacher may choose to use a combination of two models in order to ensure that learners are physically active whilst also being involved in learning about physical activity, an example being the frequent use of Contemporary issues in physical activity with Sport education.
Once the curriculum model or combination of models has been selected, the appropriate teaching strategies to guide instruction and facilitate learning for all students in the class are identified. Some curriculum models are linked directly to particular teaching strategies which support learners in achieving the intended learning outcomes.
Senior cycle physical education is planned in blocks of work. The physical education teacher decides which model or combinations of models will be the focus in each block of work. They then, in consultation with students, select the learning outcomes that will be addressed. While it is not envisaged that all learning outcomes will be included, the selected learning outcomes should prioritise learning in the essential elements outlined in each of the models. It is important that learners have sufficient time and experience of the particular model(s) being studied to fully benefit from the different teaching and learning experiences provided by it. It is recommended that not less than three and not more than five blocks of work should be included in each year of senior cycle physical education.
Planning for each block of work can be framed in relation to the following questions:
The framework is designed to provide a flexible collaborative approach to planning for physical education in senior cycle. The importance of planning within the unique context of each school is recognised here. School settings, facilities, personnel, expertise, the characteristics of the particular class and learners’ interests are all significant considerations in the selection and sequencing of appropriate learning outcomes and approaches to assessment. A double period per week is required to support this learning. Tables 1 and 2 below provide an overview of two sample programmes in senior cycle physical education.
Transition Year physical education can be planned exclusively using the framework for senior cycle physical education. Alternatively, there are a number of transition units designed for physical education, for example, sports coaching, which may be used in conjunction with the framework. Teachers are also encouraged to design their own transition units. Guidelines for the design of such units are available at www.ncca.ie/SeniorCycle.
The following are examples of what a two-year or a three-year plan for senior cycle physical education might include.
Table 1: Two-year planning for senior cycle physical education
Table 2: Three-year planning for senior cycle physical education
The choice of physical activity is important for learners’ successful and enjoyable experiences in physical education. The main criteria for the selection of an activity are that learners are interested in the activity, the school can facilitate it, the selected learning outcomes can be addressed through the activity and it is possible to assess students’ learning.
For example, tag rugby could be used in conjunction with five of the six curriculum models. Students could learn about Health-related physical activity, Personal and social responsibility, Contemporary issues in physical activity, Teaching games for understanding, and Sport education through the medium of tag rugby. In another example, dance could be used in conjunction with the following models: Health-related physical activity, Personal and social responsibility, Contemporary issues in physical activity, and Sport education.
The selection of physical activities should be decided in consultation with learners to ensure that they are based on what is perceived by learners to be important and worthwhile. Selected activities are then given adequate physical education class time for learners to develop confidence and competence in some and mastery in a few. The underlying belief is that learners’ in-depth and enjoyable learning in one activity will encourage them to participate in other similar activities. It is envisaged that a range of physical activities will be included in order to ensure breadth and balance in the programme and that the needs and interests of all learners are catered for.
Senior cycle physical education is designed to be taught over the two or three years of senior cycle education. It is recommended that a double period per week is made available as the minimum requirement for teaching senior cycle physical education. Where possible, timetable arrangements should facilitate learning opportunities associated with physical education in practical settings beyond the school.