Resources to support planning for Physical Education 

(Click on the image to access or download the resource)

Primary PE Curriculum PE Curriculum Teacher Guidelines Physical Literacy Teachers Guide
Primary PE Resource List PE Review Document - School Self Evaluation  PE Curriculum Glance Cards


Scoilnet Physical Literacy Planning Whole School Planning Prompts for PE Creating a Whole School PE Plan


Let's Talk PE - Parent Teacher Meetings and Report Cards Supporting Your Child's Learning at Home  

NCCA Guidelines for teachers of children with GLD


The successful implementation of the physical education curriculum will be dependent on efficient planning by the school and teachers. Two aspects of the planning process need to be explored:

  • Curriculum planning
  • Organisational planning


Curriculum planning

In providing a broad, balanced physical education programme it should:

  • Meet the needs of the school

Where a school has a strong tradition in a particular activity, it should also ensure that due emphasis is placed on other aspects of the physical education programme, thus ensuring that children experience a balanced programme of activities


  • Include all strands of the curriculum where possible

It is important to remember that where schools are challenged to implement a complete strand, because of constraints of facilities or resources, it may be possible to implement a strand unit or indeed part of a strand unit


  • Provide for progression and continuity

Each level of physical education is dependent on the implementation of the previous level. Continuity is ensured when regular lessons which are appropriately timed are built into the whole school plan, with activities outlined for each class and implemented by teachers in accordance with the school plan


  • Recommend some selection within strands

Where it is possible to include all strands of the curriculum in the school’s programme, some selection within strands may be necessary. For example, within the gymnastics strand it may be possible to achieve the objectives outlined in a relatively short unit of work, by carefully selecting themes.


The amount of time to be devoted to physical education

  • The allocation of time to the different strands of the physical education programme will have to be considered and agreed.
  • In addition to a timetable for the use of facilities on a weekly basis, it is helpful to consider the amount of time devoted to a subject over a period of time e.g. a month and strands of the curriculum  may be ‘blocked’ e.g. Aquatics.
  • Planning a class programme involves considering the time to be devoted to each strand and the depth of treatment of each strand. It should be noted that it is not necessary for each strand to have an equal share of curriculum time provided that the agreed objectives outlined for each class can be achieved in the time allocated to a particular activity. It is recommended that the year be divided into blocks of four to six weeks. A strand or part of a strand may be completed in this time.


P35 of the Physical Education teacher guidelines outlines a sample plan of work for Infant classes and also for classes from first to sixth. A blank template is also attached below.

  • Selecting the period of the year in which activities might take place, i.e. when to teach each strand may involve some of the factors outlined below:
  • where access to the indoor or outdoor facility is restricted at any time it may be helpful to have two strands running concurrently, one suitable for teaching indoors, the other for teaching outdoors.
  • the time of the year at which access to an aquatics facility is possible
  • the importance of encouraging maximum participation in vigorous activity should be considered during cold weather or when a class is conducted during the early morning



Organisation planning

Developing the school plan for physical education

Planning for physical education should:

  • Create a common understanding of physical education
  • Aim to utilise fully the interests and expertise of the teaching staff
  • Provide real help to the teacher
  • Involve an examination of the facilities and resources available to the school
  • Contribute to the overall school plan which will be reviewed by the board of management
  • Determine how the school intends to phase in the induction of the new programme
  • Involve review and evaluation
  • Involve communication between teachers, parents and the board of management
  • Determine the roles of the principal and the teacher in the planning and implementation of the programme

A prompt document to assist schools in developing their school plan for PE is provided below


Organising and managing support for the physical education programme

The following support should be considered by schools when planning for physical education:

  • Support of parents: Support of parents for the programme should be sought so that children derive maximum benefit from physical education. Parents with particular experience in the area of physical education should be encouraged to assist when specific opportunities arise.
  • Support of coaches: National and local sports organisations may offer to provide coaching of particular sports on a voluntary basis as part of the physical education programme. Selected personnel may support the teacher in the implementation of a programme which will support the individual child and class. It is essential that a class teacher be present as a coach works with the class. The school should consider the Code of Ethics and Good Practice for Children’s Sport in Ireland which offers guidance for personnel involved in sport
  • During planning for physical education, the needs of teachers for in-career development education should be met.
  • The availability of suitable outdoor and indoor facilities and the large and small equipment provided for use should be examined. Provision should be made for the recording, storing and accessing of all equipment. The organisation of aquatics will be influenced by the degree of access to pool facilities, the provision of transport and the availability of suitably qualified swimming teachers. Every effort should be made to provide even a short block of time for each class at some stage during the primary years.
  • During planning, teachers should review the materials available for supporting the programme. There are a wide range of resources available to teachers to support them in the implementation of a comprehensive physical education programme. Many national governing bodies representing various sports offer training programmes for teachers, as well as support materials.
  • Schools should consider liaison with local sports clubs and dance groups where possible to facilitate participation by the children in activities provided by the clubs or groups.


Physical education in small schools or schools with limited facilities

Where schools have specific problems related to a lack of indoor and outdoor space, consideration might be given to:

  • The use of classroom, corridors and school grounds for orienteering exercises
  • The provision of markings on the yard for athletic activities and small sided games
  • The use of local facilities .e.g community centres, parish halls, youth clubs etc
  • Co-operation with other primary or second level schools in sharing facilities
  • Allocating more time to physical education in the good weather
  • Visiting an outdoor education centre providing facilities for many worthwhile activities
  • Forming links with sports or dance organisations which provide support personnel and equipment


Classroom planning for physical education

Considerations for the class programme:

  • The experience of the class
  • The guidance offered by the school plan
  • Use of a variety of teaching methods and approaches-suggestions for a range of approaches which are particularly suited to the teaching of physical education are provided on in the Teacher Guidelines on pp42-101
  • The time devoted to each strand and the depth of treatment
  • The period of the year in which activities might take place
  • Establishing a code of practice for physical education lessons
  • The availability of resources and support
  • The integration of strands with other subjects
  • The involvement of students in the organisation of physical activity
  • How to provide for differing abilities
  • How pupil progress might be assessed

The teacher guidelines on pp 34-39 offer advice on the above.

Approaches and Methodologies

Among the teaching approaches which are particularly appropriate for teaching physical education are:

  • The direct teaching approach
  • The guided-discovery approach
  • Integrated approaches

The Physical Education teacher guidelines outlines information and exemplars on approaches and methodologies in the different stands of physical education on pp 40-97