Evidence-based research shows that students are more motivated, stay on task longer and learn more effectively when they are active.

The School Sport Unit partners a range of universities, academics and other government agencies to ensure that the professional learning opportunities and resources it offers to teachers are current, evidence-based and contribute to improved student outcomes.

The various studies and the professional learning opportunities that the Sport Unit supports are outlined below. Principals are encouraged to consider the benefits of physical activity on lifelong learning and health and to provide classroom teachers and school leaders with opportunities to improve their teaching and learning practices.


Led by Nicholas Riley at the University of Newcastle EASY Minds (Encouraging Activity to Stimulate Young Minds) tested the effect of physical activity on student engagement and behaviour during mathematics lessons in Stage 3. Dr Riley is currently investigating how learning outcomes are improved when teachers adopt stage appropriate strategies and resources to embed physical activity in cross curricula learning.

Mathematics has been the focus KLA for the previous and current study but plans are underway to provide teachers with ideas and resources for English lessons during 2017.

Watch this video to see how Thinking while Moving has emerged from a research study to being a NESA registered workshop with ideas for all stages of learning.

Go to MyPL to find a workshop near you!


Developed as a partnership between the Australian Catholic University (ACU) and the University of Newcastle (UoN) iPLAY aims to increase physical activity levels of primary school students through an on-line teacher-focused professional learning program supported by mentors and school leaders.

Associate Professor Chris Lonsdale (ACU) and Professor David Lubans (UoN) have collaborated to design and test explicit teaching practices and learning modules to enrich planned and incidental school-based physical activity experiences for both teachers and students.

iPLAY has a whole-of-school focus and provides teacher learning accredited by NESA at both the Proficient and the Highly Accomplished career stages.

Explore the iPLAY website to learn more about the research study and how your school can sign up to be part of this exciting program.


Based on the NEAT and ATLAS studies conducted by the University of Newcastle the School Sport Unit has developed and registered a workshop known as Resistance Training for Teens. The workshop provides innovative training and motivation for teachers to both role model and teach health and fitness in either school sport and/or PDHPE sessions.

NEAT (girls) and ATLAS (boys) investigated factors affecting adolescents’ engagement with physical activity. In particular they addressed the impact of low levels of perceived competence and poor physical self-concept typical of many adolescents.

A program of planned resistance training sessions and accessible apps emerged from the studies as effective tools in creating and sustaining a positive learning environment for disengaged students. Resistance training is promoted by the School Sport Unit as a foundation concept for lifelong involvement in physical activity.

Workshops for teachers are scheduled around the state for 2017 – check the Sport Unit calendar for available dates and venues and enrol in MyPL.


HAPPY is an inclusive and evidence-based approach to primary school physical activity environments that has been successfully introduced to schools with support from researchers at Macquarie University and the University of Sydney.

As part of the HAPPY training teachers gain confidence and commitment in delivering physical activity sessions in school playground spaces at recess and lunch, promoting more positive relationships between children when engaged in physical activity and providing enhanced peer and teacher social support for physical activity in playground spaces during the school day.

Watch this space for more information about the HAPPY findings.


38 DoE schools have signed up to be part of the Hunter New England Local Health District study known as Physical Activity for Everyone (PA4E1). Schools will be asked to implement seven practices to enhance physical activity opportunities within the school environment. Policy, teaching practice, the school environment as well as community and family considerations will all be addressed by the practices.

Three existing professional learning opportunities - Resistance Training for Teens , Developing procedures for school sport and Reviewing procedures for school sport are offered as part of the study.

Schools interested in strategies to improve student engagement, but are not part of the study, can also attend workshops and use templates provided in the online courses mentioned above. These professional learning experiences also support the implementation of the revised Sport and Physical Activity Policy. Go to MyPL to enrol.