Active Schools Update – February 2022

Since being announced by the Department of Education and Training (DET) Victoria as the provider responsible for delivering the Active Schools Expert Support Service (ESS), our office has been a hive of activity!

Our team has grown from two in September 2021, to 17 talented and passionate experts determined to support teachers and schools develop sustainable programs and opportunities leading to “getting more kids more active more often”.

In 2021 our work focussed on two key areas:

1) Recruiting and onboarding our team of eight Physical Education Leaders and four Extracurricular Coordinators, plus administration leadership and support. Special thanks to the 200+ applications we received resulting in our team being truly reflective of an Expert Support Service, and

2) Hitting the ground running and being able to initiate contact and provide initial one on one support to over 300 schools who had received funding in 2021 through the Active Schools Initiative. The team was also able to positively influence the initiatives and plans of many schools as they continued into 2022. In 2021, initiatives implemented by funded schools provided upskilling to around 1500 teachers and impacted the physical activity levels of nearly 30,000 students.

While the immediate impact on students is important, the long-term sustainability will be in the number of teachers and professional staff whose confidence and competence in fostering active school cultures are enhanced.

Although the Active Schools funding is targeted at DET schools, the initiative is something all Victorian schools should consider implementing, as the long-term health and wellbeing outcomes are more important now than ever before.

Below is some of the awesome feedback we’ve received from schools so far that highlights the benefits and importance of the Active Schools initiative and our work with schools:

"Student physical activity levels have improved at our school particularly among female students due to upskilling of teachers and a wider variety of activities being provided." – Traralgon College

"We have already seen a positive impact from the line markings on the physical and mental wellbeing of our students, particularly after extended periods of lockdown and home schooling and the students are very excited about the various games and activities they can play. We are seeing more positive interactions between students, with other students happy to do the activity track or hopscotch on their own. There is certainly a positive impact on the school culture. The school community; parents, children, teachers, play group and visitors are excited to see what is happening and the positive impact it is having on the school." – Carraragarmungee Primary School

"We found that student engagement and attendance increased when we offered these programs. We have seen an increase in students riding to school and feeling more confident with road safety." – Preston North East Primary School

"The funding has improved the physical activity levels of many students particularly students that have shown a sense of disengagement with Physical Education programs in the past. Many of these students have shown added motivation to complete their own movement challenges and have used the equipment to regulate their own behaviours during learning times." – Echuca Twin Rivers Special School

"We have seen increasing physical activity and decreasing sedentary behaviour amongst our students (and staff). We believe there has already been a change to the accepted practice that students need to sit down for the entire class time, and have seen some staff and students show a preference to active learning spaces and standing rather than sitting." – Cobram Secondary College

Since January 2022, the ESS team has been busy preparing a range of support mechanisms for funded and non-funded DET schools, participating in professional development relating to the key priorities of the Active Schools Framework and re-commencing support to schools funded in 2021.

We are anticipating we will be able to connect with 2022 funded schools from mid-February, increasing direct work with schools from 300 to over 500 this year. Additional offerings available to support DET schools in 2022 will include regional PD events, webinars, resource access and networking opportunities through the Active Schools Online Community hub and more.

We look forward to providing further updates on the work of our ESS team as the year progresses!

For more information on the Active Schools initiative, click here, or feel free to reach out to the team via email.