Research initiatives

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.


Thinking while Moving in English workshop is based on Dr Nick Riley's EASY (Encouraging Activity to Stimulate Young Minds) research. The workshops support teachers in enhancing student engagement and behaviour during English lessons through movement based learning.

TWM in English is extremely effective in engaging students and improving teacher practice. This short video (2.05 mins) outlines the Thinking while Moving in English approach and the benefits from the perspective of teachers, researchers and students.

Teacher learning involves attendance at a one day training workshop, implementation and advocacy of the program in the school setting, monitoring of student progress and completion of evaluation by students and colleagues.

Course participants are required to upload evidence of learning to MyPL after the pedagogy has been introduced to schools.

Completing Thinking while Moving in English will contribute 8 hours of professional learning at the Proficient career stage.

Go to our TPL event list page (add Thinking to the search box to filter your search) or MyPL to find a course near you.

The department's School Sport Unit will provide relief costs for all teachers per DoE school for this workshop in 2020.

For more TWM in English teaching/learning examples go to the videos in Premier's Sporting Challenge Resources. 


Thinking while Moving Logo




The Thinking while Moving (TwM) in mathematics workshops are based on Dr Nick Riley’s EASY (Encouraging Activity to Stimulate Young) Minds research. The workshops support classroom teachers in enhancing student engagement and behaviour during mathematics lessons through movement based learning.

TwM is extremely effective in engaging students and improving teacher practice. To learn more about TwM watch the short summary video or video on TwM benefits and how it works, or read the TwM Fact sheet (DOCX 65KB).and TwM Overview of teaching strategies (DOCX 177KB)

Thinking while Moving in Maths workshops participants complete 5 hours of professional learning at the Proficient career stage. 

Go to our TPL Event list page (add Thinking to the search box to filter your search) or MyPL to find a course near you.

The department's School Sport Unit will provide relief costs for all teachers per DoE school for this workshop for 2020.


iPlay logo

iPLAY (internet based Professional Learning to help teachers promote Activity in Youth) aims to increase the physical activity levels of primary school students and improve teacher confidence to deliver PE and sport lessons through the completion of on-line learning modules.

iPLAY has a whole-of-school focus, develops strategies to impact curriculum outcomes and offers resources to inform and encourages the wider school community to provide more sport and physical activity opportunities for students. 

Mentors directly assist schools to be involved in iPLAY. They offer advice and support to those teachers who take on the responsibility of being an iPLAY leader and help them to complete 13 hours of professional learning which aligns with Highly Accomplished standard descriptors.

Classroom teachers can achieve up to 2 and 13 hours of professional learning which aligns with Proficient standard descriptors.

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

Read the NSW Goverment News article published on 4 July 2018 - The breakthrough PE program giving kids fitness and focus.

View the iPLAY success story video from Cambridge Gardens Public School.

View the 7 News video aired on 30 June 2018.

Register your school's interest to be part of this amazing professional learning opportunity through the iPLAY website


RT4T logo

Based on the recent studies (NEAT and ATLAS) which investigated factors affecting adolescents’ engagement with physical activity the School Sport Unit (SSU) has developed a workshop known as Resistance Training for Teens (RT4T). This course is promoted by the SSU as a foundation concept for lifelong involvement in physical activity.

The workshop provides innovative training and motivation for both PDHPE and non-PDHPE teachers and aims to encourage teachers to role model/teach health and fitness in either school sport and/or PDHPE sessions.

RT4T has been shown to have significant positive outcomes for students with low levels of perceived competence and poor physical self-concept. It is viewed as a foundation concept for lifelong involvement in physical activity and offers a variety of activities to stimulate interest and maintain motivation. View the short RT4T video to learn more about this innovative program. 

Teachers are trained to deliver a program of resistance training sessions using printed resources and accessible apps - all designed as effective tools in creating and sustaining a positive learning environment for disengaged students.

Workshops participants complete 5 hours at Proficient career stage with workshops scheduled around the state – check the Professional Learning Events List for available dates and venues (use the filter to narrow your search) and enrol in MyPL.

 UPDATE: The Resistance Training for teens app is now live.

The app can be downloaded for Apple and Android devices.

 RT4T App Logo


The Burn 2 Learn (B2L) project involves working with senior school students to help improve not just their physical health, but also their cognitive and mental health.

The program design allows students to choose the type and timing of high intensity activities to meet their needs and interests

Resources for boxing, dance, running, resistance training and sport-based HIIT sessions are all linked to an app that gives students individual or group information, prompts, performance feedback and motivational messages.

Training for this course is delivered online through two webinars which take two hours to complete, there are also required tasks to complete between each workshop and at the end of the webinar series. Teachers receive eight hours of Elective PD hours for this course. Workshops will be scheduled on SSU Professional learning calendar.

View the B2L video to learn more about this project. 

For more information or to express interest in your school's involvement in this project, please contact James Boyer, Sport and Physical Activity Coordinator:

P: 02 9508 5528. 


Physical Activity for Everyone (PA4E1) is a Hunter New England (HNE) Health initiative offering support and resources to review, renew and enhance secondary school sport, physical education and physical activity programs.

38 department schools signed up early in 2018 to be part of a study to measure the impact of seven practices proven to enhance physical activity opportunities within schools. Policy, teaching practice, the school environment as well as community and family considerations are all addressed by the practices.

The School Sport Unit (SSU) has collaborated with HNE Health in developing this initiative and encourages schools to access departmental professional learning opportunities such as Developing procedures for school sport and Reviewing procedures for school sport to strengthen existing sport and physical activity programs. These professional learning experiences also support the implementation of the revised Sport and Physical Activity Policy.

Schools interested in strategies to improve student engagement are encouraged to enrol in the Resistance Training for Teens course (in section above) and access templates provided in the online courses.  


HAPPY (Healthy Active Peaceful Playgrounds for Youth) is an inclusive and evidence-based approach to primary school physical activity environments that was successfully trialled in schools in 2015.

Teachers who participated in HAPPY training reported improved confidence and commitment in delivering physical activity sessions in school playground spaces at recess and lunch, more positive relationships between children when engaged in physical activity and enhanced peer and teacher social support for physical activity in playground spaces during the school day.

The School Sport Unit promoted HAPPY as a strategy to increase student physical activity levels and improved teacher confidence to lead students in playground activities.