Northern Ireland news

School pupils to debate whether GAA players should be paid

Belfast Celtic are featured in the new resource

CULTURAL identity, sectarianism and racism in sports in Ireland are to be explored by children.

New classes will encourage pupils to debate topics including whether GAA players should be paid.

They will also focus on Derry City's withdrawal from the Irish League and politics in football.

The Celebrating Our Sports resource has been written for pupils in P4-7.

It will be used to introduce children to the history of sports in Ireland while associated activities will help them explore topical themes.

The resource was developed as part of the Council for the Curriculum, Examinations and Assessment's (CCEA) Primary Irish and Aspects of Shared Cultural Heritage Programme.

It will contribute to the teaching of the `world around us' and `personal development and mutual understanding' themes alongside literacy and numeracy activities.

Celebrating Our Sports has two books, the first for pupils that describes the growth of several sports played in Ireland, including athletics, cycling, Gaelic games and soccer.

It details some of the key historical, social, political and cultural factors that contributed to each sports' development.

Personalities featured include William McCrum, the Co Armagh-born inventor of the penalty kick, Olympic gold medallist Mary Peters and boxers Carl Frampton and Paddy Barnes.

A separate teacher booklet contains suggested activities and learning experiences, which can be used to delve deeper into the themes covered in the pupil book.

These include sport and cultural identity, gender issues and racism.

Chris Donnelly, principal of St John the Baptist, is a co-author.

"This is a resource which uses sports to frame learning activities in a fun and imaginative way," he said.

"Both informative and engaging, the resource can be used as a vehicle for shared education projects and through which world around us and personal development and mutual understanding can be taught and learned by upper Key Stage 2 pupils across Northern Ireland.

"Through exploring a broad range of sports, children will also discuss other important learning themes in a cross-curricular manner, delving into activities which encourage them to work collaboratively and creatively."

Co-author Liam Dempsey from CCEA said the aim was to allow pupils the opportunity to explore shared heritage through knowledge of the history of sports played internationally and locally.

"At the same time, we have tried to provide teachers with ideas to help make this a fun and interesting learning experience for the pupils drawing on active learning and teaching methods which underpin the revised curriculum," he said.

"The books discuss topical issues which pupils hear and read about in following sport and this hopefully give them a chance to delve a little deeper into some of these issues."

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