Personal Development Health and Physical Education

An educated nation, comprising active and healthy young people, is the best investment we can make in the future. Learning in HPE makes an important, positive difference to their time as students and their lifelong participation and health outcomes. Teachers, schools and communities play a central role in promoting, facilitating and modelling positive lifestyle behaviours.

What is the issue in Australia?

The 2016 Active Healthy Kids Australia Report Card showed a similar story to the original report card in 2014, in that Australian school children rank among the worst in the world (D-) for overall physical activity levels and sedentary behaviours. The latest Report Card shows that Australia is fortunate enough to have excellent physical activity facilities in schools and communities, indoor and outdoor playing areas and plenty of walk and cycle-ways, which is an opportunity to improve on organised sport and physical activity participation which was rated a B. 80% of 5-17 year olds are not meeting the Australian Physical Activity and Sedentary Behaviour Guidelines of at least 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous intensity physical activity every day. As reported in 2014, only 29% of Australians aged 5-17 years are meeting the recommended Australian screen time guidelines of accumulating no more than two hours per day.

Despite 66% of Australian children aged 5 to 14 participating in some form of organised sport outside of school hours, participation in other forms of physical activity (such as active transport and leisure time physical activity) that contribute to overall physical activity levels are low and declining. Why is PDHPE so important? Australian Curriculum entitlement in HPE and this has been realised through the development of the Australian Curriculum for HPE, which was endorsed in September 2015. Health and PE is one of eight key learning areas identified in the Melbourne Declaration for Educational Goals for Young Australians.  It is the learning area of the curriculum that provides real opportunities for children to learn how to lead active and healthy lifestyles – now and in the future. It teaches students how to enhance and positively influence their own and others’ health, safety and wellbeing. Health and PE is the key learning area in the curriculum that focuses explicitly on developing movement skills, concepts and strategies to confidently, competently and creatively participate in a range of physical activities.  Movement is a powerful medium for learning and, through it, students can develop and practise a range of personal, social and cognitive skills to strengthen their sense of self and build and manage satisfying relationships.  Participation in PDHPE in schools and throughout the community encourages a habit of physical activity and appreciation of how movement in all its forms is central to daily life, helping to avoid the onset of lifestyle diseases that represent an unprecedented threat to the health and economic future of Australia.  

The growing body of research shows that participation in HPE and physical activity leads to better student engagement, improved academic achievement during the school years, and also better outcomes in adult life.  Regular physical activity can increase children’s concentration and attention in both the classroom and at home. Research has also shown that regular physical activity in children can be a positive for academic achievement (Dept of Sport and Recreation, WA).