The playing and development of Gaelic games in and through the Primary School has been a traditional and vital custom over many, many years. It is founded on the strong and vibrant relationship between the GAA Club and the Primary School at local level, and is dependent on the good will and voluntary effort of Primary School Teachers.
The GAA enjoys unrivaled access to Primary Schools and for many children, their first, and perhaps only engagement with Gaelic games, is when their teacher puts a hurley or a ball in their hands and shows them how to play. Our philosophy for Gaelic games in the primary school is one of participation, to introduce children to the games and offer them an opportunity to play them.
The hope is that if they are not members of a club, they will join one or that if they do not wish to continue playing when they leave school, that they can say that at one stage of their lives they played Gaelic games. In games where the stakes are low and the emphasis is on enjoyment, a culture of inclusiveness will endure and each child will be allowed to play.
Remembering that children eventually become adults, we want to endeavour to give them an image of the GAA that is of an inclusive, child-centred association that they would in turn want their children to be part of. We also suggest that by introducing children to Gaelic games in primary schools they are also afforded with many opportunities for learning that will enhance their experience of curricular physical education and extra-curricular school sport.
If we are mindful of the reason why we play Gaelic games at this level, we can ensure that children will leave school with a positive disposition towards the games and the GAA.
The pathway of games development in our Primary Schools is divided into three stages and aligns with the aims and objectives of the Primary Physical Education Curriculum.
Stage 1 Nursery
The first stage in the pathway begins in Junior Infants with a Nursery Programme. The Nursery Programme to Nursery Programmes page is a series of activities which aim to develop the basic movement and coordination skills required to play Gaelic games.
Stage 2 Go Games
Once the basic skills to play Gaelic games have been developed children are introduced to Go Games. Go Games are small-sided versions of Hurling and Gaelic Football which have been devised for children up to and including 11 years of age. The games are organised on principles of fun, participation and skill development.
Click here to find out more about Go Games.
GAA Coaching in Schools
**Over 90% of schools avail of GAA coaching. This may be provided by the Teachers themselves or through the County Games Development Department.
All lessons are designed to meet the aims of the primary school curriculum and teachers are encouraged to work together with coaches to maximise the impact for pupils.
Stage 3 Inter-School Competitions
The final stage in the pathway are the Cumann na mBunscol competitions organised at senior class level (5th and 6th classes, P6/P7). These competitive leagues are organised on a match or blitz basis.
The policy under which Go Games and Inter-School Competitions must be organised, as approved by Central Council, can be downloaded here
The central figure in this development pathway is the teacher, aided and supported GAA volunteers and personnel. This pathway from junior infants to 6th class/P7 supports the teacher and the school in delivering a coordinated programme aligned to the ‘Games’ strand of the Physical Education curriculum and provides valuable linkage to other strands such as athletics and gymnastics.
Seventy-five percent of primary school teachers surveyed during 2009 GAA in-service summer courses reported that they found the support of their local GAA club to be good or excellent. While this is encouraging, it is important that all clubs ensure that they establish strong links with their local primary school. Visit the Club Schools Links [hyperlink to new learning.gaa.ie page/> page for further information on establishing club/school links.
Cumann na mBunscol
Cumann na mBunscol is the voluntary organisation of primary school teachers who promote our native games of camogie, hurling, football, rounders, handball and athletics. The philosophy of Cumann na mBunscol is to promote Gaelic games in an atmosphere of fun and enjoyment and to make Gaelic Games the games of choice in our Primary Schools.
Visit the Cumann na mBunscol website for further information.
Click here to find out more about Gaelic games development initiatives for the Primary School.
For more information on Primary School initiaitves and developing the child player contact GAA National Child Games Development Coordinator Pat Culhane at firstname.lastname@example.org or 01 8658696