Sports in Schools
Developing physical literacy in our students, through programs like Sporting Schools, could counteract the worrying decline in physical activity across the nation and support a generational change towards more active and healthy lifestyles.
Q. How do students benefit from sports participation?
Evidence shows that physically active Australians live longer, happier and healthier lives. In addition to getting more active, students’ participation in sport and physical activity reduces stress, and builds resilience, happiness and confidence.
Sport plays a positive role in children’s educational achievement. Children who play sport have improved cognitive development, are more attentive at school, and achieve better academic results.
Sport also teaches children critical life skills such as teamwork, fair play and resilience, which are important drivers of success as an adult.
Increasingly Australian children are failing to develop the skills required to become physically literate. They are unable to perform basic fundamental movement skills such as running, throwing, kicking, catching or jumping; and they lack the confidence, ability and motivation to move and to be physically active.
Supporting our children to develop effective physical literacy skills in early life will have a lasting impact on the confidence and capability of all Australians to participate in sport and to be physically active throughout their lives.
Q. What is ‘physical literacy’ and why is it important?
Physical literacy is what people learn through movement; about themselves, other people and the world around them.
Physical literacy is an approach that advocates for holistic development and considers the interrelatedness of the physical, psychological, cognitive and social learning
With this focus, and in partnership across the education, health and sport sectors, we can support better education outcomes, improved health and wellbeing, and the next generation of Australians realising the broader benefits of a physically active lifestyle.
With well-developed physical literacy skills in early life, Australians will be more likely to have the confidence and capability to participate in sport and to be physically active throughout their lives.
It’s a behavioural change, and parents will play a critical role in encouraging children to move.
Evidence suggests that individuals who develop effective physical literacy early in life are more likely to be physically active throughout their lives as they possess the capability, confidence and motivation to move.
In one of the largest studies of its kind
in the world, a team at the University of Western Australia has tracked for over 30 years Australian children’s ‘physical quotient’, a measure of physical fitness and skill levels.
Their work shows a startling decline in children’s physical literacy.
Children’s fitness has declined, with the average child in 2015 finishing 250m behind the average child in the 1980s over a 1.6km run, and their scores for basic physical skills, such as throwing, catching, kicking, forward rolls and handstands, have declined further than fitness levels.
Together this means the ‘physical quotient’ of the average child today is 10 to 15 points lower than their 1980s peers on a 100 point scale.
The implications of this decline are significant, with far more Australian children reaching adulthood today without the physical literacy needed to lead an active, healthy life.
Q. What sports are included in the Sporting Schools program?
Sporting Schools is an intervention to address low measures of childhood fitness and help kids develop the fundamental movement skills they need in everyday activity.
Explicitly teaching, coaching, and developing physical literacy has the potential to counteract the decline in physical activity across the nation, and support a generational change towards more active and healthy lifestyles.
Since Sporting Schools began in Term 3 2015, there have been almost 3.5 million student attendances, with 383,852 children joining the fun and getting physically active in Term 4 last year.
We’ve partnered with 33 national sporting organisations (NSOS) to deliver high quality sport programs across Australia for free via their networks of aligned organisations and coaches. From athletics to bowls, equestrian to hockey, sailing to volleyball, we’re sure to have a sport your school would like to try.
So far, our NSO partners have delivered more than 32,700 programs in schools.
With their involvement, Sporting Schools offers a greater delivery of nationally endorsed products supported by Nso-endorsed coaches that can also support your school’s curriculum.
A recent independent evaluation of the program identified strong community sentiment for a national sport access program such as Sporting Schools. The evaluation found that 89 per cent of people using Sporting Schools strongly endorse the program and want to stay involved.
Q. What kind of funding is available for schools?
The Australian Government’s $160 million program offers two types of funding – primary school and secondary school grants.
“Children’s fitness has declined, with the average child in 2015 finishing 250m behind the average child in the 1980s over a 1.6km run.”
Schools need to register first on the Sporting Schools website, and ensure they meet the eligibility requirements which is also available on the site, then they can apply for funding – which is available each term throughout the year.
Q. How can schools find a coach or sporting organisation?
Schools book their sport packages online through our booking system. Once the school has applied for funding and been approved, the coordinator should simply follow our step-by-step guide available online.
Q. What kind of curriculum resources are available?
In partnership with key NSOS and education professionals, we have developed resources to help sports and schools deliver quality sport activities and games that are closely aligned with the Australian curriculum.
These resources have been developed specifically for teachers and coaches to support student learning in Health and Physical Education (HPE).
A popular resource is our redeveloped Playing For Life and Sports Ability resources. Both these resources are designed for teachers to use every day – during class, at lunchtime or as part of their HPE classes.
Together, they include more than 170 engaging and inclusive activities that have been developed by us in alignment with the Australian Health and Physical Education Curriculum. The Sports Ability cards provide opportunities for all young Australians to be involved and have fun through physical activity and sport, regardless of their ability.
They provide step-by-step guidance for teachers, coaches and deliverers, including suggestions for ways to modify elements of each activity to ensure that every child is able to participate.
Q. What professional development is available for Health and PE teachers?
The ASC has developed 14 free online professional development courses that are suitable for teachers, coaches, officials, athletes and secondary school students.
Learners can undertake the courses at their own pace and when they are finished, a certificate is granted which, in some instances, can be recognised as Teacher Identified Professional Development.
The ASC’S Community Coaching General Principles course is endorsed by the New South Wales Education Standards Authority (NESA) as Registered Professional Development for teachers accredited at Proficient Level Teacher.
Sporting Schools also provides additional opportunities for teacher professional development through a co-delivery model.
Drawing on an accredited coach’s knowledge of sport and a teacher’s education experience, co-delivery encourages formal and informal skills transfer between coaches and teachers. The program supports teacher learning so schools can offer quality physical activity experiences and build closer relationships with local sporting clubs and the local community.
ASC Sport Business and Strategic Partnerships general manager Andrew Larratt. All Images: Australian Sports Commission