Whole of government initiatives, specific priorities, funding and policy changes relating to sport and physical activity in schools are important catalysts to the work of the NSW School Sport Unit and the Premier’s Sporting Challenge.
Regular meetings with stakeholders enhance the effectiveness and sustainability of programs, provide strategic direction for the Challenge and ensure support to schools is best practice.
In 2012 the NSW Auditor General Report into Physical activity in Government Primary Schools recommended schools review and improve the delivery, time allocation, programs and competency levels of teacher to provide quality sport and physical activity sessions.
The Sport Unit’s responses to the recommendations include:
- teacher professional learning workshops such as Delivering engaging sport and physical activity programs in K-2
- providing sample timetables on its website
- releasing the Building Skills as a Sport Organiser series to validate the skills of school sport administrators
Recommendation 5 of the NSW Premier’s Priorities gave responsibility to the Ministry of Health and the Department of Education to tackle childhood obesity.
Working together on the Healthy Eating Active Lifestyle Strategy (HEALS) 2013 - 2018universal campaigns and targeted strategies exist to support teachers and schools in raising awareness of healthy food and drink choices as well as improving the delivery of quality school sport and physical activity programs
The NSW Premier’s Sporting Challenge commitment to evidence-based research to inform policy and programs is reflected in a partnership with Hunter New England Local Health District to upscale a successful trial during 2018 called Physical Activity for Everyone (PA4E1).
PA4E1 targets secondary schools to adopt seven practices designed to increase student physical activity and limit weight gain. Of special interest to the Sport Unit and the Challenge are practices around leadership support, policy implementation, school planning documents and professional learning.
Existing departmental professional learning courses such as Reviewing procedures for school sport and Developing procedures for school sport will help to embed leadership and executive support as a desired practice.
In addition the Resistance Training for Teens workshop – a teacher accredited learning experience offered through the Sport Unit’s professional learning program will be a requisite training element in the trial. The workshop introduces teachers to a non-competitive, self-paced, strength-based activity suitable for adolescents particularly appealing for students with low levels of engagement.