What will physical literacy look like in the NEW K-10 PDHPE syllabus?

Remembering back to the last physical education lesson you taught; how motivated and engaged were all of your students? Did they have the opportunity to develop confidence and capacity? What were the outcomes of the lesson?

PDHPE should promote learning through movement experiences that are both challenging and enjoyable to improve student capacity to be creative, confident and competent movers within and across a variety of contexts. It promotes the value of movement and physical activity in student’s lives, now and in the future.

A focus on physical literacy encourages a more inclusive and holistic approach for our students through PDHPE.

Physical literacy is embedded throughout the current K-6 and 7-10 PDHPE syllabuses. Expect a feature focus on physical literacy in the new PDHPE K-10 syllabus as manifestation of the propositions which underpin teaching, learning and assessment.

What is physical literacy?

Physical literacy is defined as “the motivation, confidence, physical competence, understanding and knowledge to maintain physical activity at an individually appropriate level, throughout life” (Whitehead, 2006).

One common understanding of the term literacy is that it is a set of tangible skills – particularly the cognitive skills of reading, writing, speaking, listening – that are acquired by an individual and enable that person to access and use a variety of information sources to solve an information need, communicate effectively and to make sense of the world through literature. (UNESCO, 2006)

Therefore, we should consider that physical literacy refers to a set of tangible skills that are acquired by an individual and enable that person to access and make sense of the physical world. This is done through movement. Physical literacy also encompasses knowledge, understanding, attitudes and attributes such as motivation and confidence which enhance the development, refinement and application of these tangible skills.

Physical literacy is a capability which can be applied in contexts broader than just PDHPE or School Sport. The outcome of all planned physical activity experiences, inside and outside the school, should be physical literacy.

The NSW Department of Education’s Physical Literacy continuum K-10 is a tool to support quality teaching, learning, assessment and reporting practices in PDHPE, with a particular focus on physical education.

Physical literacy in the new K-10 PDHPE syllabus

The continuum can be used across the school to value movement. The tool identifies the knowledge, understandings, skills and attitudes regarded as critical to success and lifelong involvement in physical activity. It maps how the four critical aspects of physical literacy develop through the years of schooling by describing key markers of expected student achievement. These critical aspects are interrelated. There is no hierarchy. These aspects and key markers can be mapped back to current and new NSW PDHPE curriculum, making the tool a useful tool to enhance practice. Use of the tool in many NSW schools has increased opportunities for physical activity through PDHPE and School Sport through increased teacher confidence, particularly in the primary school setting.

The Physical Literacy continuum K-10 does not replace syllabus documents, but when used together with syllabus documents and other support materials, the continuum can assist teachers to deliver quality teaching and learning programs through PDHPE.

The NSW Physical Literacy continuum K-10 promotes a strengths based approach. It can be used flexibly to allows teachers to assess for learning to identify strengths and areas for improvement with students and develop clear learning goals. Knowing and focusing on what students can do allows teachers to determine where to next when planning for student learning within and across classes, groups of learners and individual students. The continuum also assists when differentiating programs by identifying each student’s level of achievement across the critical aspects. This encourages personalised approaches to support making adjustments to programs in order to meet the individual needs of students. Students can track and monitor their own progress across the continuum in various physical activity contexts which builds a shared responsibility for student learning.

The NSW Physical Literacy continuum K-10 promotes and supports a focus on educative purpose in physical education. The continuum supports teachers to identify the learning intentions for movement and physical activity based learning experiences. The tool will support teachers to plan, deliver and evaluate learning experiences across the Movement Skill and Performance and Healthy, Safe and Active Lifestyle strands in the new K-10 PDHPE syllabus. The continuum identifies success criteria in planned physical activity across the stage of learning. It does this through its clusters of markers and example documents to show translations of what the markers could look like across different physical activity contexts.

Success criteria helps cultivate independent and confident learners, focus on what students can do through purposeful learning experiences, provide effective feedback to students and parents/ caregivers. The continuum and associated resources can also be used by teachers to develop assessment tools such as checklists and rubrics to assist in identifying where to next for the teaching and learning focus.

Using the tool will promote enhanced teaching, learning and assessment by:
• introducing high expectations
• increasing opportunities for meaningful development which engages students in their own learning
• moving away from assessment and reporting centred around ineffective and inequitable measures such as enjoyment, participation and competence.

How do I order copies?

The NSW Physical Literacy continuum K-10 includes an A1 learning progression poster, plus a range of supporting resources and professional learning.

  • NSW Public schools can access the Physical literacy website to order free copies of the NSW Physical Literacy continuum K-10 for their staff. One order per school.
  • Schools and agencies outside of the NSW Department of Education can order copies through the Caterpillar Print website. Costs cover printing and distribution. Additional costs exist for international mail.
    For more information, or to access support, resources or professional learning materials access the Department’s physical literacy website or contact the PDHPE Advisor at pdhpe.unit@det.nsw.edu.au.


Renee West

Department of Education

PDHPE Advisor 7-12


How SAAFE are your PE lessons?

Although the health benefits of participating in regular physical activity are extensive, the majority of young Australians are not sufficiently active. The pandemic of ‘physical inactivity’ is not only influencing our health, but also our hip pocket, with global estimates suggesting in excess of US$50 billion is being spent on health care related to inactivity. So how do we encourage our kids to become more active now and provide them with motivation, knowledge, skills and confidence to be active for life?

In February this year, the Priority Research Centre for Physical Activity and Nutrition at the University of Newcastle, in collaboration with the Institute for Positive Psychology and Education at Australian Catholic University and the Psychology of Exercise, Health and Physical Activity Laboratory at the University of British Columbia, published a research article (which can be found online here) describing the SAAFE (Supportive, Autonomous, Active, Fair, and Enjoyable) teaching principles.

The principles were designed to provide specialist and non-specialist PE teachers with an easy-to-follow framework for delivering high quality learning experiences in the physical domain. They are not ‘rocket science’, but they are based on international research that has explored strategies to increase young people’s motivation and activity levels in PE, community sport and after school programs.

The principles were originally developed for use in the SCORES (Supporting Children’s Outcomes using Rewards, Exercise and Skills) physical activity intervention for primary school children. The SCORES intervention successfully increased children’s physical activity, fitness and fundamental movement skills over a 12-month period. The SAAFE principles are now being used in the iPLAY program, which builds on the success of SCORES.

The SAAFE principles have also been used by secondary school teachers with adolescents. So far, about 200 teachers from across NSW have been provided with training to deliver the NEAT and ATLAS programs, which use the SAAFE principles to teach resistance training skills. In our next project, we will use the SAAFE principles to support the delivery of high intensity interval training (HIIT) with senior school students.

So, what is the secret to creating ‘SAAFE’ physical activity sessions? How can you ensure that every member of your class or team is active and engaged?

Image: Overview of the SAAFE teaching principles

1. Be SUPPORTIVE in your teaching. Take the perspective of the students, provide a rationale for what you are doing, create meaningful connections, use language that is not strict or controlling, and demonstrate emotional support or involvement. Examples: Provide individual skill specific feedback; provide praise on student effort and improvement.

2. Maximise opportunities for individuals to be physically ACTIVE by including high levels of physical activity and minimal transition time. Examples: Avoid elimination games; play multiple mini games to maximise student involvement.

3. Create an AUTONOMOUS environment by providing students with choice and offering graded tasks. Examples: Allow students to choose the music within the lesson; involve students in the modification of the activities/rules.

4. Design and deliver FAIR lessons by providing all students with opportunities to experience success in the physical domain. Examples: Ensure students are evenly matched in activities; encourage self-comparison rather than peer-comparison.

5. Provide an ENJOYABLE experience, as people tend to persist with activities they find intrinsically motivating. Examples: Start and conclude session with an enjoyable activity; do not use exercise as punishment.

Leading this conversation is Professor David Lubans, ARC Future Fellow and Theme Leader of the Physical Activity and Nutrition in Schools theme at the Priority Research Centre for Physical Activity and Nutrition at the University of Newcastle. Professor Lubans is extremely passionate about re-engaging children and teens in physical education, through the design and delivery of innovative school-based programs and teacher education initiatives. He believes that the SAAFE principles are an essential component imbedded within the interventions he creates and delivers, and that all teachers should be provided with the knowledge and training to include these principles within their lessons.

Would you like to know more about the SAAFE Teaching Principles? Search for the “Health and Fitness for Teens Workshop” on MyPL. It is a one day, BOSTES accredited professional learning workshop delivered by the Department of Education in collaboration with Professor Lubans and his research team.

Kids Heart Health Spent On Games And Telly

The Heart Foundation is marking World Heart Day with analysis showing children aged 5 to 17 years are spending at least 1 hour and 20 minutes watching TV and DVDs and 20 minutes playing electronic games each day.

The analysis, based on the latest Australian Health Survey findings, shows eight out of ten Australian children fail to meet minimum national guidelines of at least 60 minutes physical activity per day, National Heart Foundation CEO Mary Barry said.


Quality health and physical education: why we need it in Australia?

Quality health and physical education: why we need it in Australia?

UNESCO recently released their report “Quality Physical Education: Guidelines for policy makers”. This global report provides a robust, evidence based framework and guidelines for the development and delivery of quality physical education programs to all children and young people.

Given Australia is moving from development mode into implementation of the new national curriculum in HPE across the majority of states and territories it provides a timely reminder of what quality PE looks like and why it is an absolute necessity.

The graphic below provides a fabulous summary of the key information from the report.

Happy reading!

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The Importance of the Health and Physical Education learning area in schools

This Position Statement has been developed in ACHPER’s role as the leading professional association for the purpose of contributing to discourse on the importance of the Health and Physical Education learning area in schools. It is part of ACHPER’s responsibility to present its position for the benefit of members as well as for productive, ongoing and future partnerships.

ACHPER’s positions are based on the belief that an educated nation, comprising active and healthy young people, is the best investment we can make in the future and an understanding that school is a very significant setting for children’s intellectual, physical, social and emotional development. The assertions of this position statement have strong foundations in both research related to children and adolescents and in current curriculum.

You can view the National Position Statement ‘Importance of the Health and Physical Education learning area in schools‘ below.

National Position Statement on the Importance of Health and PE in schools