Requirements for all sport and physical activity

The Sport safety guidelines are in place to assist schools in developing appropriate risk assessments for sport and physical activity.

Mandatory reading - It is a requirement that the information contained in the Requirement for all sport and physical activity (PDF 359KB) be addressed when considering the sport and physical activities being offered in school programs.

This document provides information on:

  • duty of care, child protection, supervision, staff to student ratios
  • banned activities, risk management, safe use of equipment
  • coaching competencies, external providers
  • infection control, injury management and further health considerations, medical insurance
  • weather and playing conditions.

The Sport safety guidelines contain specific information across a wide range of sport and physical activities. Schools wishing to offer activities NOT addressed in the Sport safety guidelines (and not a banned activity) will need to use the Principal Endorsed Activity risk assessment tool that is managed by Department of Education, Health and Safety Unit.

In addition to the Requirements for all sport and physical activity safety conditions must be complied with for specific sports, including school sport, school excursions, physical education lessons or any other school sponsored occasion.

The safe conditions must not be varied unless experts in the particular sport or activity advise accordingly.

If no sport specific conditions exist, teachers must obtain approval from the principal and comply with the Principal Endorsed Activity Procedures (STAFF ONLY) on the Health and Safety website.

Click on the sport names below to view the safety guidelines specific to that sport or physical activity.

Abseiling Handball                                                                     Skateboard riding
Archery Hockey Snow sports  
Athletics Ice skating    Snorkelling
Australian football Indoor cricket Softball including T-Ball
Badminton Indoor rock climbing Sport aerobics
Baseball Indoor soccer/futsal Squash               
Basketball Lawn bowls Surfing, bodyboarding, wave ski riding and stand up paddle boarding
Bushwalking Martial arts    Surf lifesaving
Canoeing (includes Kayaking) - competitive Mountain biking Swimming and water safety
Canoeing (includes Kayaking) - recreational Netball                                                                    Tennis
Cricket Orienteering   Touch football
Cross county Outdoor recreation Trampoline sports
Cycling Roller and inline skating Triathlon
Cycling - on road, track (including velodrome), BMX         Ropes courses  Vigoro  
Diving Rowing Volleyball  
Fencing Rugby Water polo
Football Rugby league Weight lifting and weight training
Fun runs/walkathons    Sailboarding  
Golf Sailing    
Gymnastics Scuba diving  


 Risk management

Risk management plans ensure that clear processes are in place for the identification of hazards and assessment of risks. Risk management involves a thorough analysis of activity, equipment, environment, participants and staff which enables risk factors to be identified, removed or controlled.

Risk management process and proforma including a sample Bushwalking excursion (DOCX 100KB).

Sample consent forms






The department has an agreement with the NSW Ambulance Service for school student ambulance cover for all public schools in NSW. Further information is available from Ambulance Cover on the health and safety website.



You must refer to the Requirements for All Sport and Physical Activity to understand your overall compliance responsibilitiesThe information below is additional only. 

Asthma in Sport

All students with asthma should be encouraged to exercise regularly for health and general wellbeing. These students should have an Asthma Action Plan (prepared in partnership with their doctor) as well as easy access to their asthma reliever medications at all times. 

A person with asthma may experience some or all of the following

  • Tightness in the chest.
  • Shortness of breath.
  • Wheezing.
  • Coughing.

Common Triggers and Exercise-Induced Asthma

Every student's asthma will be different, and they will react differently to various factors (triggers) on a day to day basis. Be aware that factors such as sudden changes of temperature, cold air, windy days, high pollen levels, poor air quality and hot, humid days may also trigger asthma symptoms. Vigorous exercise should be avoided if the student has cold or flu symptoms, or is recovering from a recent asthma exacerbation.

Exercise can be a very common trigger for asthma; particularly if it is prolonged and strenuous activity such as a cross country race. Developing asthma symptoms during or after exercise is known as exercise-induced asthma (EIA) 

Even a student with well-controlled asthma may experience occasional symptoms when exercising. Many students get short of breath when they exercise, but as soon as they stop exercising, the breathlessness improves. With EIA the symptoms will tend to get worse a few minutes after a student stops exercising, and may continue for 15-30 minutes without treatment.

Asthma symptoms during exercise may be a sign of poor asthma control and if this is occurring then a medical review of the student's asthma management should take place. The aim of good asthma management is to allow the student to participate fully in normal exercise. With appropriate medication, most people with asthma can undertake even vigorous exercise.


It is important to ensure the student's day to day asthma is generally well controlled and they have an up to date written Asthma Action Plan (see also requirements for Individual Health Care Plans in the Requirements for All Sport and Physical Activity). Well controlled asthma means the students is able to carry out normal day to day activities without having asthma symptoms, and does not need to use their reliever medication more than two times a week to manage symptoms. If a student's asthma is not well controlled by these standards, they require medical review. If advised by their doctor a student with EIA may need to use their reliever medication 10-15 minutes before starting exercise.

Staff should always ensure that there are rest periods and a warm-up and cool down appropriate to the intensity of the planned activity. Two different types of warm-up have been shown in research to be effective in reducing EIA:

  • 5-7 x 30 second sprints with 30-60 seconds rest.
  • Brisk walk/slow jog for 20-30 minutes.

You may alternatively choose a group game as a warm-up activity for all students. 



You must refer to the Requirements for All Sport and Physical Activity to understand you overall compliance responsibilities.

The information below is additional only and should also be read in conjunction with the Protecting and Supporting Children and Young People Procedures, Working with Children Check Policy and the Excursion Policy.


Every school and staff member is responsible for the protection, safety and welfare of students. Staff should refer to section 22 of the Code of Conduct Procedures regarding professional relationships between employees and children, young people and students.

Staff should be aware that departmental requirements in relation to child protection, including mandatory reporting, apply while they are supervising any type of school activity.

In the context of sport and physical activity, teachers are required to be with students on the field, in the pool, in the gymnasium, in the change rooms and at a range of commitments out of school hours. The same rules and responsibilities apply in these circumstances as in the classroom.

Physical Contact with Students

Physical contact with students is an important and necessary aspect of safe and effective teaching especially in activities such as gymnastics and demonstrating a range of games skills. Coaches and staff may need to use physical contact to instruct, encourage, protect or comfort.

Guidelines for Physical Contact

It is suggested that the school community meet to discuss issues about appropriate physical contact in sport or physical education and develop guidelines for students, staff, volunteers and parents, which may incorporate the information set out on this page.

In relation to physical activity, physical contact with a student to demonstrate a particular action, such as throwing a javelin or a ball, may seem quite reasonable. However teachers cannot assume that the student wants to be shown this particular action.

Physical contact during sport and physical activity should always be to meet the student’s needs, NOT the teachers. The teacher should only use physical contact if the aim is to:

  • Develop sports skills or techniques
  • Treat an injury
  • Prevent an injury
  • Meet the requirements of the sport

Teachers Should:

  • Minimise the need for physical contact. Teachers should ask themselves if touching is necessary;
  • Let students know why there is a need to demonstrate using a hands-on method;
  • Explain what the physical contact will be and ask for volunteers, or ask students if they mind the teacher demonstrating with them using a hands-on approach;
  • At the beginning of a sport program such as gymnastics, explain that the teaching of it will involve spotting by the teacher and peers;
  • Be explicit about what part of the body they will be touching, for example, around the waist or hips;
  • Inform the students that if they fall or need unexpected assistance to avoid injury, the teacher may make necessary physical contact. Be explicit about the fact that in a safety situation touching may not proceed as planned; and
  • Give the students verbal instructions at first. If they have difficulty, ask them if they would like to be shown how to do it. If they say no, respect that it is their choice.

Supervision of Change Rooms

Teachers have a duty of care to ensure the safety and wellbeing of students using change rooms. Change rooms should be supervised and teachers should adhere to the following guidelines:

  • Give explicit instructions and guidelines for behaviour in change rooms;
  • Set a routine for going into change rooms and keep to it;
  • Announce to students when a teacher is entering the change room and allow time for students to cover up;
  • Do not stand in change rooms as students have a right to privacy.

While the issue of a teacher of either sex supervising the change rooms of both sexes poses some difficulties, some suggestions for teachers in this situation include:

  • Give explicit rules about what is expected of students' behaviour in the change rooms;
  • Ensure that students know that if there is an emergency you will enter the change room;
  • Choose two student representatives to report to you about any problems in the change rooms;
  • Ask the students to come out of the change room if there is any disturbance;
  • If for some reason the students remain in the change room seek a teacher of the appropriate sex to go in;
  • If there is an emergency, let students know you are coming in and give a warning to cover up before going in.




You must refer to the Requirements for All Sport and Physical Activity to understand your overall compliance responsibilities. The information below is additional only.

Coaching Competency

The Specific Sports and Physical Activity Requirements outline specified competency levels for coaches and instructors of high risk sports and outdoor activities.

Competency assessment should take into account the nature and type of activity, level at which the game is to be played (e.g. intra-school or zone competitions), and the experience and ability of the participants.

The following organisations (and links) provide coaching accreditation courses for members of staff:

School Sport Unit
Australian Sports Commission
NSW Sport and Recreation

Teachers appointed as coaches should:

  • Be provided, if necessary, with opportunities to acquire an appropriate level of knowledge and skills which will enable them to provide students with appropriate instruction in the techniques of the sport activity.
  • Plan to allow for progressive skill development.
  • Be aware of the specific strength and physical requirements of activities, particularly for students selected in school representative teams, for example, the most desirable and suitable body build for a front row forward in rugby league or rugby union.
  • Ensure that students only participate in vigorous activities if medically fit. Students must not be allowed to continue playing if they are injured. If a teacher has reason to believe that a student is injured, the student should be removed from the field of play. 



Participation in sport and physical activity are an important part of the growth and development of students and should be encouraged. It is important to be aware of concussion to provide the proper care when needed.

A concussion is an injury to the brain caused by sudden strong movement of the brain against the skull. This may be caused by collision with another person or object.

Only one in ten people with a concussion will lose consciousness so it is important to be on the lookout for warning signs which could appear immediately after a bump to the head or body, or over the following hours and days. If any of the symptoms listed below appear or get worse in the first 48 hours after a head injury, immediately take the person to a doctor or the nearest Emergency Department:

  • Seizures or convulsion.
  • Losing consciousness.
  • Slurred speech.
  • Ongoing vomiting.
  • Blurry or double vision.
  • Excessive drowsiness.
  • Worsening headache.
  • Trouble walking.
  • Weakness or numbness in the arms, legs or face.
  • Confusion, irritable, unusual behaviour.


If a concussion occurs during sport or physical activity the student should stop participating immediately. Return-to-participation (and practice) after concussion, should only occur once all symptoms are resolved and with a medical clearance from a medical practitioner experienced in the management of concussion. If needed an ambulance should be called. Further information relating to ambulance cover can be found on the school sport unit website.

Recognising concussion and acting when it is suspected can prevent further injury and help with recovery – when in doubt, sit it out!

In the event that parents/caregivers observe symptoms of concussion to their child whilst under their care and if the injury occurred either at school or in a community activity they should immediately inform the school / community club about the symptoms of injury.

School principals are responsible for ensuring that staff are adequately trained in first aid and that school accident reports are prepared when appropriate and as soon as possible after an accident occurs.




You must refer to the Requirements for All Sport and Physical Activity to understand your overall compliance responsibilities. The information below is additional only.

External providers

When non-staff members are involved in school sports or activities, the school retains responsibility for supervision and a duty of care of students. It is not necessary for the activity to be conducted on school premises for these conditions to apply.

Principals should also clarify for parents (or other stakeholders) when an external provider or non-staff member will lead an activity.

The Premier’s Council for Active Living has developed a set of guidelines for School Principals using external providers for physical activity and sport in school settings. These Guidelines can be downloaded from the following link - Guidelines for Guidelines for using External Providers for Physical Education and School Sport.(PDF 244KB)



In accordance with the Disability Standards for Education 2005, we believe that a student with a disability should be able to participate in programs and use facilities and services on the same basis or comparable to student without a disability.

The concepts described below should be utilised when providing opportunities for students with disabilities in sport and physical activities in the school setting. The safety of all participants must be considered in the planning of the sport and physical activities.

Where the inclusive practices are going to occur within the school sport program, parents or caregivers must be informed of full details of the location, supervision to be provided and activities to be undertaken when seeking their written permission. In some instances, medical clearance should be obtained.

Exemplar inclusive practices within school sport programs that have proven successful, have always maintained the integrity of the sport or game.

There are currently three main models for developing inclusive practices in sport and physical activities. Schools should use one or a combination of the models in developing an appropriate risk management procedure for each inclusive practice to be used across a sport or physical activity.

TREE Principle: Adaptation and Modification

The TREE principle is Teaching Style, Rules, Equipment and Environment and is the Australian Sports Commission model of inclusive practices:

The Tree principle is based in the idea that in many cases very simple modifications or adaptations can be made that will allow greater participation by students with disabilities in physical activity. Every effort should be made to remain as close as possible to the original activity format. The activity selected will depend on a number of factors including:

  • The objectives of the program.
  • The abilities of the students.
  • Space.
  • Time.
  • Available equipment and facilities.

Examples of TREE principle include

Teaching Style

  • Use a buddy system.
  • Use physical assistance by guiding body parts through a movement.
  • Use circuit activities to allow students to progress at their own level and pace.
  • Introduce 'disabled' sports (activities that may be new for all students and particularly appropriate for the student/s with disabilities).


  • Allow for more bounces in a game.
  • Use a stationary ball.
  • Have fewer players to allow freedom of movement.


  • Use smooth/indoor surface instead of grass.
  • Use zones within the playing area.
  • Reduce the size of the court or playing area.


  • Use lighter bats or racquets and/or shorter handles.
  • Use lighter, bigger, slower bouncing balls..

Golden Rule of Inclusion

The Golden Rule of Inclusion states that a teacher must find a balance between “maximising the individual potential” and “maintaining the Integrity” of the game. This includes both the individual student and all students in the class or sports group.

When using the Golden Rule of Inclusion you should be aware of the following areas

  • Know the goals of your program.
  • Modify the activities in keeping with the goals of the program.
  • Challenge all the students.
  • Encourage students to value difference.
  • Focus on students abilities.
  • Select appropriate activities.
  • Provide a supportive learning environment.
  • Encourage achievement.

The Inclusion Spectrum

The inclusion spectrum states:

Inclusion encompasses a broad range of options in many different settings.

  • Inclusion in sport can be looked at in terms of a spectrum in which each segment is as important and valid as the next.
  • A student or athlete may choose to participate in any segment of this spectrum or in as many segments, depending on factors such as:
    • Their functional ability.
    • The sport in which they are participating.
    • The opportunities in their local environment.
    • Their personal preference. 

 Inclusion Pic




You must refer to the Requirements for All Sport and Physical Activity to understand your overall compliance responsibilities. The information below is additional only.


All participants with prior evidence of infectious diseases are strongly advised to obtain confidential advice and clearance from a doctor prior to participation


Staff and students often participate as game officials. To prevent possible cross-infection in the use of whistles supplied by the school, the school should ensure that the following cleaning procedures are adhered to:

  • Wash and scrub all accessible parts with warm soapy water.
  • Rinse with fresh running water.
  • Soak in a solution of 70% alcoholic chlorhexidine for at least two minutes.
  • Dry all parts.
  • Whistles should be frequently inspected for cracks which may make thorough cleaning impossible. Discard if cracks appear.

Team Areas

Dressing rooms should be clean and tidy.

Particular attention should be paid to hand basins, toilets and showers. Adequate soap, paper, hand towels, brooms, refuse disposal bins and disinfectants must be available at all times.

Routine washing procedures using hot water and detergents are adequate for decontamination of most laundry items.

Contamination linen, soiled with blood or body substances should be transported in a leak proof plastic bag to the laundry site simply to contain the body fluid and stop it spreading to the other laundry items.

Contaminated linen does not need to be segregated in the hot detergent wash.



You must refer to the Requirements for All Sport and Physical Activity to understand your overall compliance responsibilities. The information below is additional only. 


Sport safety education for students and teachers is an essential part of any injury prevention program.

Education for students can take place through the Health and Physical Education (HPE) key learning area and specific sport programs.

Education for teachers can take place through school training and development activities. The following organisations offer courses in first aid and sports injury management:

Safety frameworks and procedures

Any safety framework developed by a school should include components dealing specifically with injury management, including first aid, transport, treatment, rehabilitation and education to protect against further damage. All safety frameworks and procedures should be applied appropriately during practice or class as well as competition.

Procedures and advice regarding accident prevention and injury treatment should outline:

  • The immediate treatment of injury, and/or appropriate referral;
  • Contact persons or centres for injury treatment ;
  • The responsibilities and the role of the teacher in first aid ;
  • The treatment of major vs minor injuries;
  • Accident reports and records of accidents, including appropriate referral body; and
  • The location and availability of medical kits for all sport fields and other locations.  

Personal protective equipment

An important part of any sports safety framework is to educate players, parents, coaches, trainers and officials in the appropriate use of protective equipment, including selection, maintenance, proper fit and adjustment.

Any protective gear or equipment should be frequently inspected and replaced if worn, damaged or outdated. Protective gear should be worn during practice sessions as well as during competition.

Individual sports may have requirements for specific equipment – see the Specific Sports and Physical Activity Guidelines.

In particular, please note that NSW Health, Sports Medicine Australia, Australian Dental Association and Dental Health Foundation Australia recommend the wearing of custom-made mouthguards for participants involved in training and competition games in sports where collisions with opponents and sporting equipment is likely to occur. Further information is available at the Australian Dental Association's Mouthguard Awareness Campaign website.

Warm-up and warm-down

Warm-ups should include activities that use the same movement patterns as the activities to be performed during the session. Warm-up exercises should begin at a low intensity and gradually increase to the level required in the activity. The warm-up aims to:

  • Raise the temperature in muscles and increase circulation around the joints
  • Increase oxygen delivery to the muscles so that they are available for more vigorous activity
  • Prepare the mind and body for the activity.

The warm-down involves exercises that decrease the heart rate and body temperature. Participants should do a warm down at the end of every activity session, consisting of:

  • Activity of significantly reduced intensity, such as 2-3 mins of easy jogging or walking
  • Gentle stretching exercises that move the muscle through the full range of movement and include all muscle groups that were used in the activity.

Training and conditioning

Appropriately structured training and conditioning programs are significant factors in injury prevention. In developing specific training and conditioning programs for students, coaches and instructors will need to consider:

  • The maturity, capacity and age of the participants;
  • The physiological requirements of the activity;
  • The physiological capabilities of the individual participants, including existing injuries;
  • The level of competition and nature of the activity; and
  • The participants' playing positions.

Coaches should undertake regular updates in injury prevention, injury recognition, first aid and basic life support principles. Schools are encouraged to incorporate coaching accreditation for teachers in the school's professional learning plans. Coaching accreditation courses are coordinated by the National Sporting Organisations and accredited through the Australian Coaching Council or state sporting bodies.


Rules and the way they are implemented by game officials are a key approach to injury prevention in sport. The application of appropriate sanctions for infringements of the rules which may lead to injury is an effective injury prevention strategy.

Administrators of inter-school competitions are encouraged to use accredited umpires and referees. Zone sport coordinators are encouraged to arrange coaching and officiating accreditation courses for teachers officiating at inter-school competitions.

Rule modification for juniors

Those involved in the development of injury prevention strategies should understand the difference between child and adult athletes in skill, strength and coordination skills. Modified sport programs contribute to the reduction of injuries.

Successful modifications to sports include changes to

  • Size, weight or style of equipment
  • Playing area and goals
  • Length of games and(or) season
  • Team sizes and interchanges (rotation) policy
  • Relaxation of technical or complicated rules.

Sports first aid

It is the primary role of the sports trainer to improve the safety of sport by assisting with injury prevention measures such as taping, checking protective equipment, providing initial injury management on the field and referring injuries, as necessary, to a more qualified health professional.

Schools may seek to have members of the school community trained in sport first aid courses. Courses are conducted by Sports Medicine Australia NSW via the Safer Sport Program.

More information is available on the First Aid page on the Health and Safety website.

Student Concussion

In previous years, concussion has come to be regarded as a more serious condition. It is important to remember that even what may appear to be a mild bump to the head may cause a concussion. See Concussion for more information.

Parental or Caregiver Notification

Parents or caregivers must be notified as soon as possible of any injury incurred by a school student less than 18 years of age. The notification of parents or caregivers will ideally be given by the Principal of the school, provided this is appropriate in the circumstances. A notification should include the following:

  • Confirmation that the student has been involved in an accident, and a description of the nature of the accident;
  • Details of any injuries sustained by a student; and
  • Details of the action taken following the accident, e.g. first aid or calling an ambulance.





You must refer to the Requirements for All Sport and Physical Activity to understand your overall compliance responsibilities. The information below is additional only.

The following does not apply to accidents or injuries involving staff. Principals should continue comply with relevant policy and procedures relating to workers compensation in relation to staff members.


While teachers may not be legally liable in school injury cases, any negligent act may lead to investigations by the Department of Education into their conduct and (or) performance which can lead to serious disciplinary actions.

Staff are not to comment or give opinion about responsibility or liability for any accident or injury that occurs on a Department site or during a Department activity. Staff members should defer any questions or concerns about the responsibility or liability of an incident to the school Principal.

Apologies may be offered in respect of an accident and are not an admission of liability. Any decision regarding an apology is the responsibility of the Principal.

If a person, such as a parent, expresses their intent to make a claim against the school or department in relation to any injury or accident, staff should refrain from comment or opinion and refer this to the Principal. Principals can contact the Legal Services Directorate at the Department for advice in relation to potential claims.

Accident Reports

Principals will coordinate the preparation of accident reports for any accident that occurs on Department premises or during Department activities, unless the accident is trivial. A common sense approach is used to determine if accidents are trivial. Staff may be asked to assist in preparing accident reports or additional documentation.

Statement obtained from witnesses fall under the provisions of the Privacy and Personal Information Protection Act 1988. People making statements should be aware that statements may be used by the Department in assessment of claims or in defence of legal proceedings.


The Department does not automatically cover students injured during school activities, and in some situations a venue or sports program may hold separate insurance that covers students. Staff should not make comment or express opinions about insurance cover for any student or participant in Department activities. Any questions about insurance should be referred to the Principal.