However, the Department of Education has chosen just 80 from the 369 that applied to take part in the roll out of the new curriculum.
It will be examined for the first time at the Leaving Certificate in 2020, and all schools will be open to teach the new curriculum from autumn of that year.
The schools selected for the first phase are being announced today, after an invite issued in December for expressions of interest.
These schools may choose to offer it as a non-examinable subject, using a senior cycle PE framework also being rolled out on a phased basis.
As well as a final written exam in June of sixth year, worth half of the Leaving Certificate marks, students will be assessed on performances and related projects in relation to any one of a range of activities. While these may include traditional team or individual sports, it could also incorporate dance, orienteering or other physical activities undertaken during the two-year PE course.
The department had expected to facilitate 50 to 60 schools teaching the subject from this year. Education Minister Richard Bruton said he was delighted it was able to offer places to so many schools after the huge demand for involvement.
“This was an important commitment in the action plan for education, and is in line with the Government’s overall emphasis on healthy lifestyles,” said Mr Bruton.
The minister was speaking at Our Lady of Mercy Secondary School in Beaumont, one of 18 Dublin schools among those picked. Another 10 schools in Cork, seven in Donegal and six each in Limerick, Tipperary and Wexford have been selected, along with smaller numbers in more than a dozen other counties.
Although the department is not committing any additional resources beyond teacher training for the new subject, the Government’s National Development Plan 2018-2027 includes a programme of building and modernisation aimed directly at ensuring appropriate PE facilities for students at all second-level schools.