Physical literacy

Access a definition and overview of physical literacy as used by the NSW Department of Education.


Physical literacy is embedded throughout the K-6 and 7-10 PDHPE syllabus. Quality physical education and school sport programs offer the best opportunity to foster the development of physical literacy for all children and young people.

Physical literacy is defined as "the motivation, confidence, physical competence, understanding and knowledge to maintain physical activity at an individually appropriate level, throughout life"

(Whitehead, 2006).

A comprehensive understanding of physical literacy is important for programming Kindergarten to Year 10 PDHPE.

Physical literacy:

  • should be the goal of all physical education programs
  • can be developed through a wide range of physical activities and environments
  • requires a student-centred approach to teaching and learning.

The NSW physical literacy continuum K–10 outlines the skills and attributes students develop as they progress from Kindergarten to Year 10.

There are four interrelated critical aspects which form the framework of the continuum:

  • movement competencies
  • tactical movement
  • motivation and behavioural skills
  • personal and social attributes.

Getting started

Increase your understanding of how to effectively use the physical literacy continuum to assess, track and monitor, plan and teach the aspects of physical literacy across planned physical activity in your school context.

Suggested pathway

  1. Read the Overview of the physical literacy continuum K–10 (PDF 516 KB) document.
  2. Access the physical literacy professional learning.
  3. Read the Starting points for teaching: plotting students on the physical literacy continuum (PDF 110 KB) document.
  4. Enhance your understanding and practice with the Physical literacy continuum cluster examples (PDF 312 KB). (The examples provide more detail of what each marker could look like across the various physical activity contexts, as well as breaking down and translating the observations of teachers, guiding their assessment of each marker.)

Order copies

NSW public school teachers and school executive

  • Consult with your principal and all staff before placing your physical literacy continuum K-10 school order.
  • Order copies of the NSW Physical Literacy continuum K-10 A1 posters at no cost.

Agencies and schools external to NSW Public Schools

For more information email

Related content


  • Teaching and learning

Business Unit:

  • Educational Standards
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