Quality Physical Education = Active Schools

Active kids are happy, healthy and resilient kids. Active kids are also active learners. On 1 November 2020, the Department of Premier and Cabinet released a plan to Get Kids Moving Again (details here).

In addition to this public statement, the Ministers of Education, Community Sport and Health released a joint statement on physical activity for children and young people titled ‘Active Schools, Active Kids and Active Communities’ (Joint Ministerial Statement, 2020).

The Statement outlines the vital role health and physical education (HPE) has in its successful implementation. What we do and how we respond is of great importance to our profession and to the overall health and physical activity levels of our students. 

Underlying this Statement is the understanding that a child’s level of physical activity is influenced by many holistic factors, including their ability, their family, and where they live, learn and play. While the COVID-19 pandemic created challenges for all individuals to remain physically active - especially due to remote learning and community sport being put on hold - one upside has been the increase in family engagement and being active together. The Victorian government would like to encourage people to continue these habits. 

ACHPER Victoria understands and supports the role schools can play in promoting and preparing young Victorians to lead a physically active and healthy life. At the heart of the Joint Statement is the creation of Active Schools. 

According to the Joint Ministerial Statement, 2020 (see pg.4), an Active School supports its students to: 

  • Develop a strong base of fundamental movement skills 
  • Understand the importance of being active 
  • Feel confident and motivated to participate in community sport andactive recreation 
  • Develop healthy lifelong habits and routines 
  • Regularly get outdoors and into nature; and 
  • Travel actively to and from school and within their community.

An Active School is one that encourages physical activity through a whole-of-school approach. For Victorian schools, the Framework outlines six key priorities, highlighting that all these areas must work holistically if the promotion of physical activity is to occur (see diagram at right).  

Over the past decade, ACHPER Victoria has been a leader in two of these six priorities: Quality Physical Education and Active Classrooms.  

Quality Physical Education

There are two important points we wish to emphasise. Firstly, all Victorian government schools are required to teach HPE as part of the curriculum. Strongly reinforced is the mandate to teach physical education and sport for the following time requirements (see Joint Ministerial Statement, 2020 - pg.10):

  • Foundation – Year 3: 20 - 30 minutes of physical education a day
  • Years 4 – 6: 3 hours per week of physical education and sport with a minimum of 50% of that time for physical education 
  • Years 7 – 10: 100 minutes physical education and 100 minutes of sport (per week) 

Secondly, the focus on fundamental movement skills during quality physical education enables students to develop their movement competence, self-confidence, their perceived competence and their enjoyment towards being active.

Active Classrooms

There is a developing research base that suggests more active classrooms create more active and engaged learners. Physical education teachers can  promote active classrooms by supporting classroom teachers develop their knowledge, skills and understandings of how to develop more active classrooms.

These changes can make meaningful contributions to a child’s learning and their physical activity levels when combined with other physical activity opportunities within the active school’s framework. Active classrooms can involve (see Joint Ministerial Statement, 2020, pg. 14):

  • Active breaks (brain breaks) between learning activities
  • Working at benches, standing desks or on the floor
  • Learning in the outdoors
  • Learning activities which involve movement

ACHPER Victoria has partnered with Transform-Us and Sport Australia (through Sporting Schools Plus funding directly to schools) to support teachers in the promotion of brain breaks, development and changes of the physical environment as well as supporting teachers during periods such as before school, during school and after school activities.

Further learning for HPE teachers

HPE teachers have a responsibility to ensure Quality Physical Education is at the centre of every Active School. With many online resources available to support teachers in developing more active classrooms, we have found our greatest impact with changing “teaching behaviour” of classroom generalist teachers has resulted when a face-to-face or “live” element has been built into change.

ACHPER Victoria has a range of resources available for you and your school that picks up on the elements listed above. For example, we can tailor an in-school workshop for teachers and schools to focus on FMS development. We’ve also published an FMS eBook and hosted a webinar on 'Active Schools, Active Kids, Active Communities' for teachers late last year (see below).

We also have a couple of workshops coming up that may also be of interest, including “Teaching Primary PE for the First Time” (26 FEB 21) and “FMS and Game Sense Workshop” (19 MAR 21).

Active School workshop

Recently, our PL Manager, Bernie Holland, led a workshop for the 80+ staff at Melton South PS around building a more active school community. The workshop tailored to the needs of the school context focused initially on building active breaks during the day.

A follow up conversation with Garrick Demarchi, PE teacher at the school, revealed many of his colleagues have already started implementing ideas shared at the workshop. He was excited with the response from one teacher, “I was even invited into another teachers’ classroom who took it upon themselves to put together a board of physical literacy active breaks with the students input. The students have already made their favourites.” Other teachers commented that, “...the students have loved getting outside more,” and “...the students have loved being active for short bursts throughout the day.”

We understand the development of a more active school community is a long-term commitment that will take time. Starting small and building the foundation (sound familiar to how we teach our children) will lead to long term change.

Watch this space as we will continue to share info and resources with you as they become available on this fantastic initiative towards developing Active Schools.

Want to find out how we can support you in this process? Get in touch!