Newsletter 1 November 2014

Dear colleagues,


Welcome to the first edition of the PEPAYS Ireland newsletter. With your help and contirbutions we aim to keep the community involved in all aspects of Physical Education, Physical Activty and Sport informed with the latest research, upcoming events and other items of interest with a tri-annual production. The content will be reader driven and we hope you enjoy this inaugural newsletter.


What’s in this issue?


Remembering our friend and colleague Professor Pat Duffy

PEPAYS-Ireland Update

Recent Research and Abstracts

Upcoming events

Researcher Profile

News Items

Funding Calls



Remembering our friend and colleague Professor Pat Duffy


It is most appropriate that we remember our friend and colleague Professor Pat Duffy in this first edition of the PE PAYS newsletter.  As most of you will know, Pat Duffy lost his courageous and inspirational struggle with cancer this summer leaving.  Pat was remembered over several days in July when hundreds of people from all parts of Ireland, UK and beyond came to Birdhill to pay their respects to Deirdre and the children.  Deirdre was a huge source of strength to Pat and an inspiration to us all particularly during the last year of Pat’s life which he lived to the fullest as only Pat could.  What some of you may not know is that Pat was the first scholar to give a PE PAYS Scholar Lecture where he spoke about one of his favourite topics, Irish Sport and Physical Education Policy and showed why the Irish constitution continues to inhibit the development of physical education in the Irish education system.  As late as a month before he passed away, Pat gathered a group of colleagues and friends together at Matt the Trashers pub in Birdhill and provided a final inspirational talk on his ideas for the development of sport, coaching and physical education in Ireland.  Pat is missed by so many not only here in Limerick and around Ireland but by colleagues in the UK and South Africa where he held the posts as CEO of Sport Coach UK, then Professor at Leeds Metropolitan University, and as a Chief Technical Advisor to the South African Sports Federation.  He was an inspiration to so many people at UL, Coaching Ireland (he had been the Director as the National Coaching and Training Centre), PEAI, and many leaders of the major National Governing Bodies of Sport.  Pat was also a great supporter of the mission of PE PAYS Research Centre and encouraged us all to combine our knowledge and research efforts in support of higher quality teaching and coaching for young people and athletes. He was a great colleague.  There have been many tributes made to Pat including one in the Irish Examiner soon after his passing. Liam Moggan’s tribute to Pat at his funeral Mass was a wonderful summation of Pats values as a father, husband, friend, and advocate for sport and physical education. He will be missed for a long time.

May he rest in Peace.

Professor Mary O’Sullivan


PEPAYS-Ireland Updates


  Dr Ann MacPhail           Dr Elaine Murtagh                  Ian Sherwin


New Co-Directors

A reminder that the two new Co-Directors of PEPAYS-Ireland are Ann MacPhail (University of Limerick – This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.) and Elaine Murtagh (Mary Immaculate College, Limerick – This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.).

Ian Sherwin (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. ) is a PEPAYS-Ireland Scholar and provides administrative support to PEPAYS-Ireland.


PEPAYS-Ireland Forum, Waterford June 2014

The Forum was highly successful with high numbers of attendees from a range of institutions and impressive research presented. The members meeting on the Thursday afternoon was well attended and the discussion allowed members to comment on how to best develop PEPAYS-Ireland through examining the mission statement and proposed strategic plan.

PEPAYS-Ireland Forum, Limerick June 2015

Mary Immaculate College and the University of Limerick are to co-host the PEPAYS 2015 Forum and a date in late May/ early June will be confirmed shortly.

PEPAYS-Ireland website

The co-directors have appointed a website design company for the new PEPAYS-Ireland website. Work has begun on the layout and as we begin to consider the content for the website we would appreciate comments / feedback on what you would like to see on the website to be sent to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..



Recent research and Abstracts

Ongoing research projects:

External evaluation of the Points for Life Pilot Project

‘Points for Life’ is an initiative, led by Senator Eamonn Coghlan in collaboration with the Professional Development Service for Teachers (PDST), which aims to develop the physical literacy of children in Irish primary schools. The Points for Life Pilot Project took place in four primary schools during the 2013/14 school year. 

The Points for Life external evaluation team consisted of members of PEPAYS Ireland and shares expertise in the areas of physical activity measurement, determinants of physical activity behaviour, fundamental movement skills (FMS), and student voices in physical education, physical activity and youth sport.

Participation in the Points for Life Pilot Project involved schools undertaking the six stages of the Department of Education and Skills’ School Self-Evaluation (SSE) process (Department of Education and Skills, 2012), with a specific focus on improving the physical literacy of children. The evaluation of the Points for Life Pilot Project was designed to coincide with the timing of the school self-evaluation process, such that baseline data were collected at the end of the first five SSE stages (Gather Evidence, Analyse Evidence, Draw Conclusions, SSE Report and SSE Improvement Plan) in November/December 2013 and follow-up data collection took place at the end of stage six of the SSE process (Implement and Monitor) in March/April 2014.

Given the intention of the Points for Life Pilot Project to focus on the improvement of children’s physical literacy, the external evaluation aimed to assess the impact of the project on the following components of physical literacy, (i) fundamental movement skills (FMS), (ii) objective measures of physical activity, (iii) physical activity behaviours and self-reported fitness, and (iv) awareness, knowledge and understanding of physical activity and physical education.

Assessments of the processes involved in the Points for Life Pilot Project and of the effects of the initiative on school culture and teacher learning were carried out internally by the PDST, in collaboration with participating teachers, and do not form part of the final report that now resides with the PDST before it can be more widely circulate.

Any enquiries related to this evaluation project should be directed to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


Active School Flag 

Active School Flag: this ongoing project examines the impact of the Active School Flag process on physical education, physical activity and school sport (E Murtagh, D Ní Chróinín, R Bowles).


Conference abstracts:

Authors: Hardie, M. (Dublin City University), Belton, S. & Woods, C.B.

Title:  A longitudinal analysis of uptake and drop out of physical activities during post primary education in Ireland. 

Conference: Poster Presented at HEPA Europe, August 2014.


There is a clear decline in physical activity (PA) with increasing age in adolescence. In 2009, it was reported that only 6% of Irish students aged 16-18 years met the minimum PA recommendations for youth of at least 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity (MVPA) daily. The purpose of this study is to assess: (1) PA levels in Irish 6th year post-primary students, (2) the adoption and drop out of physical activities from 1st to 6th year in post-primary education. Methods Participants from The Childrens’ Sport Participation and Physical Activity study (2010) were followed up and recruited from 17 post primary schools across Ireland. A survey was administered to 384 6th year students (aged 18.2 ± 0.4years; 26% male, 74% female) in school. Habitual PA was assessed using a two-item screening tool for PA and the IPAQ short form as student’s bridged adolescence and young adulthood. Participants were asked to retrospectively recall PA taken up and dropped out of in the previous 5 years. Students reported club based PA undertaken at both time points. Results The mean number of days meeting the recommended 60mins MVPA declined from 4.6 ± 1.6 days in 2009 to 3.2 ± 1.7 days in 2014 (p≤0.01). Only 4% met the PA recommendations for youth on all days in 2014. Using the IPAQ criteria students were classified as having high (39.4%), moderate (54.1%) or low PA levels (6.6%). In the previous 5 years, 71.3% (73.7% boys, 70.5% girls; NS) reported taking up a PA. Of all of the new activities reported, 54.5% of participants were still involved in one or more of them (73.9% of males, 47.3% of females; χ2 = 14.371, p≤0.01). In contrast, 71.0% (64.9% of boys, 73.1% of girls; NS) stated that they have stopped participating in a PA. Of the top 3 activities recalled to be taken up by girls (dance 25.1%, Gaelic football 17.8%, gym 15.7%), two of these were also reported in the top 3 for drop out (Gaelic football 17.8%, basketball 21.6%, dance 19.6%). In contrast, boys recalled taking up the gym (18.6%), weights (15.7%), soccer and Gaelic football (both 12.9%) and dropping out of rugby (17.5%), hockey and soccer (both 11.1%). Longitudinal analysis revealed increases in reported participation in weights training for boys (↑25%) and girls (↑9.2%), athletics in boys (↑7%), aerobics in girls (↑6%), martial arts in boys (↑3%) and Gaelic football (↑2.1%) in girls. All other activities had reduced participation rates. Activities with the highest participant dropout rates included hurling for boys (↓10%) and dance in girls (↓5.2%). Discussion Rates of PA remain low in older adolescents. Young people appear open to taking up new physical activities but the issue lies with maintaining participation. There is a gender difference in PA maintenance and activities.


Authors:  EM Murtagh (Mary Immaculate College), MH Murphy, N Murphy, C Woods and A Lane (2014)

Title:  Correlates of physical inactivity in community-dwelling older adults in Ireland.

Conference: 5th conference of HEPA Europe. Zurich, 27th – 29th Aug

Introduction: Ireland shares the prospect of rapid and sustained population ageing with other developed countries [1]. This public health challenge may be exacerbated by poor physical activity levels.  The purpose of this study was to identify correlates of physical inactivity in a population-representative sample of older Irish adults. Methods: Data collected in 2009-11 from 4892 adults aged 60+ as part of the Irish Longitudinal Study on Ageing (TILDA) were analysed. TILDA includes a detailed assessment of the mental and physical health, and social and financial circumstances of participants assessed in a home interview and self-completion questionnaire. Physical activity was assessed using the International Physical Activity Questionnaire. Chi squared statistics and forced entry logistic regression was used to identify factors associated with insufficient physical activity. Results: Individuals who were female (odds ratio 1.68) and of older age (OR 1.96) were more likely to be classified as insufficiently active than their male and younger counterparts. Older adults who perceived their overall health as ‘fair’ or ‘poor’ were more likely to be insufficiently active (OR 1.59) compared to adults who reported their health as ‘excellent/very good/good’. Participants who reported that they did not fall in the last year (OR 0.87), did not have a fear of falling (OR 0.62), did not have long-term health problems (OR 0.69) or whose activity was not limited by illness (OR 0.46) were less likely to be insufficiently active than their counterparts who answered positively for these items. Adults who reported that they did not look after grandchildren (OR 1.38), did not own a car (OR 1.96) or did not attend a course in the last year (OR 1.71) were more likely to be insufficiently active than peers who responded positively to these statements. Discussion: Our findings identify specific groups of the older Irish population who are at particular risk of physical inactivity and thereby the associated physiological and psychological hazards. These results can support the development and targeting of interventions to tackle inactivity in older adults and guide the creation of policy which aims to promote healthy ageing.

This project was funded by CARDI through a Data Mining 2013 grant.


  1. Kearney, P.M., et al., Cohort profile: the Irish longitudinal study on ageing. International Journal of Epidemiology, 2011. 40(4): p. 877-884.


Authors:  I. Sherwin, (University of Limerick) M.J. Campbell and T.E. MacIntyre, (2014)

Title:  A mixed methods exploration of Talent Development in Team Sports in Ireland: The (seminal)

role of the coach.

Conference: Psychology Society of Ireland, Kilkenny, 12th – 15th November

Background: The development of talent in sport is located in the important relationship of athlete and coach where the coach enables the athlete to perform to the best of their abilities in different domains. (Coté et al., 2013). The current study aimed to investigate the talent development systems in team sports from a coaching perspective. The data collection procedure was a retrospective interview process with coaches and mirrored that proposed by Coté et al. (2005).This process focussed on the “recall of factual knowledge about concrete activities they engaged in throughout their development (pp.4)” and was designed to collect information that could be verified by external sources. Methods: Male coaches from five team sports completed the survey. Inclusion criteria for coaches were defined as those with at least 10 years’ experience coaching their sport and currently coaching more than 4hrs per week. Consequently, 19 respondents were invited to attend a follow-up semi-structured interview. Results/Discussion: Typically, the initial introduction to coaching coincided with a highly competitive phase of their playing career. Their involvement in coaching increased as their highly competitive participation decreased. Phenomenological experience was reported to be the main contributor to learning in coaches. Coaches were highly educated with some specialisation in sport or physical education related disciplines. Coaches used a variety of methods to develop players including 1 to 1 coaching, creating a positive training environment and building team dynamics. Conclusions: The athlete/coach relationship is vital for the player to develop. An intrinsically motivated player with sound technical, tactical and physical attributes combined with an appropriate coach for that level that operated in a supportive, challenging but not pressurised environment created an optimum development culture. Further research is needed to gain a deeper understanding of the development of high performance coaches and their impact on Talent Identification and Development. 


Coté, J., Ericsson, K. A. & Law, M. P. (2005) Tracing the development of athletes using retrospective interview methods: A proposed interview and validation procedure for reported information. J App Sport Psych, 17, 1-19.

Coté, J., Erickson, K.  & Duffy, P. (2013) Developing the expert performance coach. In D. Farrow, J. Baker & C. MacMahon (Eds.) Developing sport expertise (2nd ed.) (pp.96-112). Abingdon, UK: Routledge.


Book abstracts:


Authors:  Dr Sharon Phelan (Institute of Technology, Tralee)

Title: Dance in Ireland: Steps, Stages and Stories               

In Dance in Ireland: Steps, Stages and Stories, Dr. Sharon Phelan provides an in-depth view of dance in Ireland during the colonial and post-colonial eras. Published by Cambridge Scholars Press, this book presents dance as an integral part of Irish life and as a signifier of cultural change. Central themes are documented and analysed from historical and cultural perspectives and the book is illustrated with photographs. It is acknowledged as an indispensable resource for academics and artists alike, as they continue to foster dance, on the page and on the stage.                                             

The first section of the book focuses on dance during the colonial era in Ireland. Themes covered include cross-cultural influences between Irish, French and Irish dancers, the movement of the Europeans dance master system into Ireland in the early eighteenth century and pantomimic dance traditions. During the twentieth century, dance during the Gaelic Revival receives attention from Nationalist and Anglo Irish perspectives. Next, dichotomies in dance receive consideration; male/female and clergy/laity dichotomies receive particular consideration. Finally, the theatricalisation of Irish dance, by Siamsa Tire the National Folk Theatre of Ireland concludes the book.                                                                                                                     

Dr. Sharon Phelan lectures in Contemporary and Folk dance in the Departments of Social Sciences and Health and Leisure Department in the Institute of Technology, Tralee, County Kerry. She also performed with Siamsa Tíre, the National Folk Theatre of Ireland, taught Phusical Education in second level and she was full-time Artistic Director of the Ionad Culturtha in Ballyvourney, County Cork. Sharon was involved in the establishment of dance as an independent area of study, in second level and in third level education, in Ireland. She was also a National Facilitator for Dance-in-Education


Authors:  Peter Andrew Hastie (Auburn University), Ann MacPhail, Antonio Calderón & Oleg

Anatolievich Sinelnikov

Title: Promoting professional learning through ongoing and interactive support: three cases within

physical education,

Publication: Professional Development in Education, DOI: 10.1080/19415257.2014.924425

This paper reports on three cases where university teacher educators have provided an ongoing and interactive support system for teachers learning a particular curriculum and instructional model in physical education in their own schools. Located in diverse contexts (Ireland, Spain and Taiwan), each of these initiatives was grounded in the idea that previous efforts at professional development in settings outside the school led to less than successful implementation of innovative practice once teachers returned to their own settings. The three cases provide a description of the rationale for the professional development initiative, followed by a more extensive description of the professional development itself and its resultant outcomes. The third part of each scenario serves to highlight the challenges faced by the providers and the teachers during the course of the professional development. Three major themes (time, accessibility and modeling) that were common across sites are discussed in terms of the implications for professional development not only in physical education, but across subject areas irrespective of geographical location.


Authors: Ann MacPhail, (University of Limerick) Kevin Patton, Melissa Parker & Deborah Tannehill


Title: Leading by Example: Teacher Educators' Professional Learning Through Communities of


Publication: Quest, 66:1,39-56, DOI: 10.1080/00336297.2013.826139

There has been a limited interest in examining physical education teacher educators’ role and practices in embedding professional responsibility and commitment to continued professional learning for both teacher educators and pre-service teachers in a physical education teacher education (PETE) program (MacPhail, 2011). Directed by a landscape of community of practice (CoP) as professional development (Parker, Patton & Tannehill, 2012), this article shares four case studies that demonstrate the extent to which PETE learning can be mapped onto the landscape. In essence, a CoP is sustained over time, involves shared member goals, involves frequent discourse, is active and social, and is characterized by problems being solved by the members. The ideas in this article in tandem with Wenger’s (1998) CoP process can encourage teacher educators to consider whether opportunities undertaken in a PETE program, and with colleagues external to the PETE program, encourage an authentic CoP.


Authors: Ann Marie Ralph (University of Limerick) and Ann MacPhail (2014)

Title: Pre-service teachers' entry onto a physical education teacher education programme

and associated interests and dispositions

Publication: European Physical Education Review published online 22 September 2014, DOI:


Investigating the reasons for pre-service teachers (PSTs) whom choose to undertake a physical education teacher education (PETE) programme can inform teacher educators on how best to define teaching tasks, organize knowledge relevant to student learning and shape the perceptions of PSTs about teaching and learning (Calderhead, 1987). In this study, Lortie’s (1975) attractors and facilitators to the teaching profession frame the examination of the influences, interests and dispositions that motivate PSTs to enrol in a PETE programme. We conducted semi-structured interviews with a sample of 10 PSTs, at the beginning of the first semester and the end of the second semester, within their first year in a 4-year PETE programme: We frequently recorded that significant others and interest in sport influenced their choice to enrol in a PETE programme.


Upcoming events


The International Society for Behavioural Nutrition and Physical Activity 

The International Society for Behavioural Nutrition and Physical Activity (ISBNPA) will host its 14th Meeting in Edinburgh from June 3-6 2015. The deadline for submission of abstracts is 5th Dec 2014. See:


All Ireland Postgraduate Conference in Sport Sciences and Physical Education

Plans are being made for a Second All-Ireland Postgraduate Conference in Sport Sciences and Physical Education to take place in the Department of Physical Education and Sport Sciences, University of Limerick on Friday 25 January 2015.



Abstract Submission: 12th December 2014

Decisions on submissions: 19th December 2014

Registration opens: 9th November 2014

Registration closes: 9th January 2015

More information will be circulated shortly through third-level institutions. Any enquiries regarding the Conference should be directed to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


The International Society for the Measurement of Physical Behaviour (ISMBP) will host its 4th International Conference on Ambulatory Monitoring of Physical Activity and Movement (ICAMPAM) in Limerick, Ireland from June 10-12, 2015. Keynote and invited speakers include Ulf Ukeland, Stewart Trost, Patty Freedson, Jo Salmon and Nicky Ridgers.

Abstract submissions are now open, the deadline is 16 January 2015. See


International Conference on Engaging Pedagogy

International Conference on Engaging Pedagogy, Athlone Institute of Technology Friday, 5th December 2014. This year’s conference theme is The Voice of the Educator.

The keynote address this year will be by a leading edge international promoter of Contemplative Pedagogy. Contemplative Pedagogy is a new and exciting pedagogy to Ireland which is informed by great success internationally, particularly in the US.


'Exploring the idea of a Writing Centre - getting starting and building capacity'.

Date: 7th November 2014, NUI Maynooth, in collaboration with Athlone Institute of Technology, Dundalk Institute of Technology and Dublin City. Colleagues from University of Limerick will also contribute on the day.  The event will begin at 10.00 and will conclude with a light lunch at 12.30.

Please register: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.<mailto:This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>


The Association for Learning Development in Higher Education

The Association for Learning Development in Higher Education (ALDinHE) Learning Development Conference 2015: Southampton Solent University 30th March – 1st April 2015. We welcome proposals for 60 minute workshops, 30 minute paper presentations, 5 minute lightning talks and posters. Call for papers deadline: 1st December 2014.


The British Conference of Undergraduate Research

The British Conference of Undergraduate Research also accepts submissions from students outside the UK. In 2015, Winchester University will be holding the conference. Submissions of abstracts for students and staff are open please submit via the website and the deadline is 15th Dec 2014.


TU4Dublin Colleges (DIT, ITB & ITT) Joint Symposium 30th March – 1st April 2015.

This is the first event organised jointly by the TU4Dublin Colleges and Canada (University of Ontario Institute of Technology (UOIT), Trent University and Ontario College of Art and Design University (OCADU). The symposium is intended to examine and discuss recent and current issues related to three thematic areas:

  • The Enterprising University
  • Re-Imagining our Curriculum
  • The Globally Engaged University

 Papers on related topics of interest such as, for example, universal design for higher education and the virtual university, are also welcome. Deadline: 14th November 2014 Conference abstracts must be submitted online via the conference online submission system:

If you need any assistance or require any further clarification please contact Larry McNutt This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.<mailto:This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.> or 885 1080


National Forum for the Enhancement of Learning and Teaching 2015 seminar series

Details of the National Forum for the Enhancement of Learning and Teaching 2015 seminar series can be found at


ISBNPA Satellite Meeting This satellite offers a range of interactive sessions, work-share structured discussions and a designer lead approach to creative opportunities for increasing awareness and action around physical activity and diet for weight management and maintenance. Short presentations include recent work on new visual tools for assessing unhealthy body weight in children, effective communications and brief interventions.

UCL Centre for Behaviour Change

The UCL Centre for Behaviour Change is delighted to announce this unique conference from 23rd-24th February 2015, bringing the science of behaviour change and eHealth expertise across disciplines to all those interested in developing and evaluating digital interventions and products. Keynotes, symposia, round tables, rapid fire presentations, posters and networking events will bring cutting-edge evidence, theory and methods to business and developers of technology, policy makers and researchers. Topics will include:

  • Applying behavioural science to designing and evaluating digital interventions and products
  • Establishing partnerships between industry and academia
  • Maximising the potential of wearable tech to change behaviour
  • Standards, regulation and ethics



Elsevier have  developed freely-available, bite-sized training webinars and developed a series of one hour live webinars all containing useful tips and tricks on getting published, peer review, journal and article metrics, grant-writing and getting your paper noticed - See more at:


EdX offers interactive online classes and MOOCs from the world’s best universities. Upcoming courses include:

  • Foundations of data analysis
  • AN introduction to global health
  • Introduction to nutrition – Food for Health


Researcher Profile

                                                                                                Dr Wesley O'Brien

Profile Overview:

Dr. Wesley O’ Brien has recently joined (September 2014) the Sports Studies and Physical Education (School of Education) team at University College Cork and delivers modules across the B.Ed and M.Ed programmes. Some of Wesley’s specific areas of expertise relate to childhood physical activity promotion, physical education, motor development and fundamental movement skill proficiency across the lifespan.

Research Output:

During the 2013/14 academic year, he published two peer-reviewed journal articles (both as lead and co-author), specifically relating to his PhD on the “Youth-Physical Activity Towards Health (Y-PATH)” study.  These journal articles presented data on the design, development, implementation and evaluation of the Y-PATH adolescent physical education intervention. He was also the lead author of a conference proceeding publication entitled “An overview of the Y-PATH intervention - components and content” at the PEPAYS research forum held in WIT during June 2014.

Ongoing Research Activity:

As part of Wesley’s ongoing research projects, he is actively collaborating with Dublin City University on the “Y-PATH” study (adolescent physical activity promotion), with the University of Ulster on the “Sport for Life All Island (SFLAI)” project and has been recently involved (October 2014) with physical literacy data collection as part of Cork Institute of Technology’s “Project Spraoi”.

Conference Attendance:

At the recent European Congress of Sports Science (ECSS)(July, 2014) held in Amsterdam, Wesley presented a fundamental movement skills paper entitled “Age is just a number, maturity in movement is a choice.” Regarding national conference presentations in 2014, Wesley was an invited speaker to the Early Childhood Congress held in Croke Park, the PEPAYS research forum and gave a keynote address at the annual Physical Education Association of Ireland’s (PEAI) conference in Limerick.


News Items

Recent Developments in Teacher Education and CPD

By Prof Mary O’Sullivan

Interest in teachers and teacher education by those outside the education professions is greater today than at any time in my professional career.  This focus on teacher education and even more so on teacher educators is not just a feature of the Irish policy space but a major focus across Europe and beyond. The intensity of this focus will have consequences for teacher education, physical education teacher education and the personnel engaged in this activity across the country in the coming years.  

You are well aware of the Teaching Council powers for teacher education accreditation and for physical education teacher education in particular.  The programmes in Limerick, Dublin and Cork have been forced to design 260-280ECT programmes within a four-year window to meet Teaching Council standards.  These requirements (Teaching Council, 2011) and the recommendations of The International Report on Teacher Education (Salberg, 2012) on Irish teacher education provision will have repercussions for teacher education for many years to come.  The demands on teacher education candidates as well as on teaching staff in higher education are significant.  The demands on teachers and schools are also significant with increased time in school placement.

The intent of the Teaching Council (though not stated explicitly) is for Physical Education Teacher Education programmes to create a five year (preferably a masters level) degree as current institutions insist on qualifying graduates to teach two subjects to Leaving Certificate level. The Teaching Council will insist (and in this I support them) that all teachers have a substantive qualification in the subjects they teach.  Thus employability is increased if PE teachers can teach two or more subjects especially when seeking employment in our smaller schools.  While there is research evidence to support the value of clinically/school based experiences, the Teaching Council has no authority to facilitate and support school’s active engagement in this expanded role of teacher educator as well as a teacher. The preparation of school based teacher educators has neither been planned for nor resourced. 

Recent policy documents at European level provide some important background information for many of these recent development in Ireland and physical education teacher education will not be immune to the consequences.  The PE PAYS-Ireland Research Centre has teacher education as a central pillar of its mission and we should be proactive in both the policy arena and research space related to these issues.  There is a major research agenda in this area for those whose interests lie here.

Interesting Policy Documents for Teaching and Teacher Education

By Prof Mary O’Sullivan

Listed below is a selection of recent documents that may be of interest.  There are some really interesting research studies around these issues currently and I can provide direction to these should there be interest.

  1. EU Commission (2010). Developing coherent and system wide induction programmes for beginning teachers. Retrieved at


  1. EU Commission (2013). Supporting Teacher Competence Development for better learning outcomes.  Retrieved at

In light of the on-going consultation process around CPD for teachers, I think you might find it interesting to note that the work of the Teaching Council is one of the four examples used in the annex in this document. You can see that the goal here would be to provide a CPD framework and teachers would show how they are addressing these competences as part of their career long learning plan.  The responsibility of the government would be (I would assume) to provide structures to support such CPD. The current round of 60+ consultations meetings coming to a Teacher Centre near you could be understood as part of Ireland responding to this initiative.


  1. EU Commission (2013). Supporting Teacher Educators for better learning Outcomes. Retrieved at

In Feb of 2013, the Irish EU Presidency term had just begun and a major education conference hosted by the DES (with the Teaching Council a lead partner) focussed on this agenda on behalf of the EU Commission. There is no doubt that at the EU level the definition of teacher educator is to include both school and university based teacher educators.  Again, following along with the increasing attention to metrics and accountability, there is a desire at the EU level to develop a set of competences for teacher educators so that all those who contribute to the education of teachers (be it inservice, induction or preservice) that they have an EU and/or nationally agreed set of qualifications.  This has the potential to significantly impact on who can/can’t engage in teacher education practices in schools/teacher education and also provides an opportunity to look at what we know about the knowledge, skills and capacities of teacher educators.  What is their role? How is the role similar or different for school and university based teacher educators?  What would be the nature of CPD for teacher educators of Physical Education as distinct from CPD for teachers of Physical Education.


  1. OECD (2014). Teaching and Learning International Survey (TALIS). It can be retrieved at

Despite continuing challenges and tensions in Ireland around reforms to Initial Teacher Education and more particularly the junior cycle reforms and senior cycle/LC Physical Education framework/syllabus, data from across Europe and beyond suggest teachers for the most part are very satisfied with their choice of profession. In a recent study of 800 PE teachers in Finland (Makela, 2014) almost 80% of them indicated they were either satisfied or very satisfied with their jobs.  This is very similar to the OECD TALIS (2014) survey of teachers and principals across 20+ countries.  There are Irish data in this report. While data on Irish students’ abilities in maths, reading and science are gathered for the international PISA survey, Ireland did not engage in the OECD TALIS project to understand how countries can prepare teachers to face the diverse challenges in today’s schools?  The OECD survey asks teachers and school leaders about their working conditions and the learning environments at their schools. TALIS (2014) provides timely and comparable information to help countries review and define policies for developing a high-quality teaching profession. It is an opportunity for teachers and school leaders to input into educational policy analysis and development.  Why does Ireland not engage?

As teachers, researchers, and teacher educators, we live in very interesting policy spaces with the potential for these developments to influence our professional practice and research agenda for years to come.



By Dr Elaine Murtagh


The Centre for Ageing Research and Development in Ireland (CARDI) held a seminar on ‘Keeping Active for Better Ageing’ on 25th Sept in Dublin. Speakers included Ken Fox (University of Bristol) Elaine Murtagh (MIC) Frank Doyle (RCSI), Cate Hartigan, (HSE) and Mark Tully (QUB).

Presentations from the seminar are available online at



By Dr Carol Staunton


The transformative power of Physical Education will be strongly advocated and promoted as part of the remit of the newly designated UNESCO Chair in Inclusive PE and Sport, based at the Institute of Technology in conjunction with the CARA National APA Centre.


This UNESCO Chair, the first in the world to be awarded in the area of inclusive sport, will launch a series of events in the New Year to promote knowledge of the Chair in its commitment to transforming the lives of people with disabilities, their families and communities through enabling their inclusion in PE, sport, fitness and recreation. It also hopes to develop new avenues of cooperation with potential and current national and international partners.


The envisaged multi-sector activities of the Chair seek to meet a number of project-specific objectives, chief of which is to build the capacity among professionals, through education and training, to work with (and not only for) people with disabilities in physical education, sport, recreation and fitness. This will be carried out in developing countries, post-conflict and post-disaster areas as well as in partner jurisdictions.


As well as this, the Chair is in the process of developing a virtual space where all partners will be able to work towards the universality of physical activity provision. Finally, the Chair aims to mobilise its partnership to disseminate, advocate, operate, research and transform current practice in a unified and coordinated manner. Ultimately, it is hoped these processes will lead to changes in legislation, policy and practice in terms of the inclusion of all people with disabilities in PE, as well as sport, fitness and recreation.


While a website devoted to the work of the Chair is currently under construction, anyone interested in finding out more and/or working with the Chair can contact Carol Staunton via This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..



Funding Calls


NUI Galway Hardiman Research Scholarships

November 21st 2014

HRB Interdisciplinary Capacity Enhancement Awards 2015

December 8th  2014

Enterprise Ireland Innovation Voucher – Horizon 2020 (Pilot Call)

March 2015

HRB Research Leaders Awards 2015 

March 31st 2015 



Our Mission

To use high-quality, multi-disciplinary and multi-entity research to shape, influence and inform policy and practice relating to advancing the health and well-being of populations in the areas of physical education, sport, physical activity and health.

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