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


Renee West

Department of Education

PDHPE Advisor 7-12


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