Portobello Institute: Opportunities for PE Teachers in 2020

By Gemma Creagh - Last update


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The academic year 20/21, will see Leaving Cert Physical Education (LCPE) made available in all schools interested in offering it to incoming fifth year students. With 180 hours of contact time available and inclusion of LCPE for CAO points, this is a subject that will be in demand by many leaving cert students. This demand will in turn create opportunities for employment for teachers with the specific subject knowledge of PE that will meet the requirements of the teaching council.

What is a Cert in Higher Education in Physical Education?

This Cert in Higher Education for Physical Education (PE Cert) is a 120 credit Higher Certificate programme, at level 8. It is designed for those who already have an undergraduate in a related subject (e.g. sports science) but who are lacking the curricular credit specifications to pursue a professional masters in physical education and ultimately teaching council accreditation. The programme is also aimed at teachers with non sports related degrees seeking to add PE teaching to their skill set.

What are the subjects covered on the PE Cert

The subjects covered in the PE Cert include gymnastics, dance, aquatics, adventure activities, health promotion, games and athletics and disability education.  For those from non-sports science backgrounds, they offer an additional 60 credit programme (180 credits) in Anatomy, Biomechanics and Physiology to supplement first undergraduate degrees with the fundamentals needed to progress to teach PE as a second level subject.

Teaching junior and senior cycle PE

This Cert in Higher Education for Physical Education programme is designed to offer theoretical and practical learning in delivering junior cycle and senior cycle PE curricula. The modules explore the role of PE in the holistic education of the child and adolescent as well as exploring sociocultural issues that arise in the delivery of PE programmes. The PE Cert offers students an opportunity to develop the knowledge and skills needed to design lesson plans, implement skill learning and development across domains of PE and explore teaching methodologies and practices. Throughout the modules, reflective practice skills and critical research skills are developed to ensure that graduates become competent, evidence-based practitioners in whichever path they choose to follow after graduation.

What is the path to PE teaching?

The most common path for students graduating with the PE Cert is to follow on to a professional masters in physical education before applying for Teaching Council accreditation. In addition to pursuing the professional master in PE route for becoming a secondary school teacher, there are other opportunities that graduates may pursue, for example, providing primary school PE teaching support. Many primary schools currently employ specialist PE teachers and coaches to deliver their curricula. Currently the generalist primary school teacher is charged with undertaking PE. However many primary schools recognise that this is a huge ask of the primary teacher and that specialists in PE are often better equipped to deliver a holistic PE programme during these essential formative years. Private education institutes also offer another career path for graduates. Private education institutes in Ireland are some of the most prestigious sporting development centres and pride themselves on sporting excellence. Often private education institutes have the resources and facilities to deliver state of the art PE programmes that may not be feasible in other public schools. Thus becoming a member of the PE staff can be a very rewarding and fulfilling experience that combines holistics PE and elite sports coaching.

Employment opportunities outside of PE teaching

With the current childhood obesity epidemic and sedentary life-styles on this rise, there are opportunities for graduates to progress into the domain of public health promotion and policy development. Additionally, for those who are interested in specialising, sports governing bodies offer a route for working in the development and promotion of grass-routes sport in the community. Similarly, local governing bodies offer roles in the development and implementation of access and promotion programmes for improving PE for marginalised groups or minorities.

Opportunities for PE teachers overseas

Whilst Ireland is developing a stronger footing in PE delivery, many graduates opt to explore international opportunities in countries that are a few steps ahead in terms of PE. For example, Australia and the United States offer an abundance of advanced sports coaching and PE opportunities for educators across all levels from elementary to high school. Similarly, the Middle East offers another interesting prospect for graduates, with a heavy emphasis on international education institutes delivering PE as a core element through English.

Further study opportunities for PE teachers

Ultimately, the PE cert offers scope to progress in a career as an applied educator both in Ireland and Internationally. Furthermore, the PE Cert offers opportunities to progress in an academic career, pursuing a PhD or MSc in physical health, developmental education or psychology.

Studying PE with Portobello Institute

Students have two options to study PE with Portobello Institute. The first option, suitable for students without an undergraduate degree is to undertake a full-time or flexible delivery mode BSc (Hons) in Physical Education & Coaching. This programme is available to study as a full-time 3 year degree or by flexible delivery which is a combination of weekend classes and online learning. There are advanced entry opportunities available depending on prior learning. The full-time programme commences in October each year whilst the flexible delivery programme commences in the autumn and spring time.

The second option is to undertake the Cert in Higher Education in Physical Education available by flexible delivery mode of learning. This programme commences three times per year – autumn, spring and summer.

What is the Flexible Delivery mode of learning?

Flexible Delivery takes the schedule of a traditional face to face learning programme and re-structures it to reduce the contact tuition time by introducing more online learning together with one to one tutor support.  This mode of delivery includes contact tuition and web-based e-learning sessions. The e-learning platform is interactive including recorded sessions, webinars with weekly content and assigned tasks to themes and topics. The time commitment will be greater than a blended learning programme

Contacting the Portobello Institute

The Portobello Institute are working remotely during the Covid-19 shutdown and still processing admissions for courses. The Portobello Institute are conducting interviews, when required, via skype at this time. Brandon is available to answer your queries by phone on 01-8920035 or contact the college via this portal.

About the author

Dr Susan Giblin is the Director of Sports programmes in Portobello Institute. She has worked with a wide variety of clients from high profile professional teams (American football, rugby, soccer and baseball in the US, UK and Australia) to minority Irish sports (Irish Olympic Archery, Sailing programmes). Susan worked with International Sports Analytics company Kitman Labs  since 2013 as Head of Research. She has a Doctorate in psychomotor development and assessment from the Institute of Coaching and Performance University of Lancashire in the UK, a MSc in Performance Psychology from Edinburgh University and a BSc Health and Performance Science from UCD. Susan is a chartered practitioner in Sports Psychology with the British Association of Sport and Exercise Sciences and a chartered scientist with the Health Care Professions Council (UK).

Susan has a research track-record that includes publishing in high-ranking international scientific journals (British Journal of Sports Medicine, Sports Medicine) and has co-authored book chapters on sports performance (e.g. The Science of Sprinting etc.). Susan’s main research area to date has focused on the development and validation of technologies for performance assessment (biomechanical, motor skill and psychological).


Gemma Creagh

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