Physical literacy professional learning

Use the professional learning materials to enhance your understanding of the NSW Physical Literacy Continuum K-10 and how it can be used to enhance student learning.

Introducing the physical literacy continuum

Through this professional learning course participants will:

  • develop an understanding of physical literacy and its relationship to planned physical activity in schools
  • explore how the NSW Physical Literacy continuum K–10 can support teaching and learning at a whole school, classroom and individual student level.

Access the Introducing the NSW Physical Literacy continuum K-10 course through MyPL. Course code NR26979.

This course is teacher identified, self paced online professional learning. It addresses the following Australian Professional Standards for Teachers towards maintaining Proficient Teacher Accreditation in NSW:

  • 2.1.2 - Apply knowledge of the content and teaching strategies of the teaching area to develop engaging teaching activities.
  • 6.2.2 - Participate in learning to update knowledge and practice, targeted to professional needs and school and/or system priorities.

Physical literacy in NSW schools

Duration: 8 minutes 37 seconds

Question: What is Physical Literacy?

Renee West, PDHPE Adviser, NSW Department of Education and Communities:

Physical literacy is defined by Margaret Whitehead, the founder of physical literacy as "the motivation, confidence physical competence, understanding and knowledge to maintain physical activity at an individually appropriate level throughout life. Individuals who are physically literate have the knowledge, skills and attitudes to lead healthy lifestyles for themselves and also assist others in acquiring these skills.

Physical literacy is not a capability that is achieved at a particular time and then persists throughout life. Each individual will be on their own individual physical literacy journey with twists and turns and setbacks along the way.

Dr. Richard Keegan, University of Canberra:

So physical literacy, it starts with the joint consideration of ability and propensity to move, capacity to move effectively, overlaid with motivation to move and influence your environment and the confidence that you are able to and you will take on new challenges. Wrapped in with all of that is valuing it and thinking that it's important and not just kind of a frivolous thing, that isn't maths or English so move on.

Question: What do we know about levels of physical activity, health and wellbeing in Australia?

Dr. Richard Keegan:

Which ever survey you take, whichever measurement tool you use, you tend to find in Western populations, Australia included, we're not sufficiently active to retain our health.

Professor David Lubans, Priority Research Centre for Physical Activity and Nutrition University of Newcastle:

While it's not clear if young Australians are less active than they are in previous generations, there are some strong trends that have emerged. First is that we know that rates of active transportation to school have decreased over time. Fewer young people are walking or riding their bike to school than ever before. We also know that young people are spending less time outdoors playing and more time engaged in recreational screen time. Now this is a real concern for our society. We also know that physical activity levels decline dramatically during adolescence, particularly with adolescent girls. So finding ways to provide young people with the skills and attributes that's going to help prevent this decline which we often see carried into their adulthood, is very important endeavour.

Julie Horningold, Brighton Le Sands Public School:

Well our main aim is that students develop a positive attitude towards physical activity.So we're encouraging that positive attitude through physical education and sport.

Corey, student Wheeler Heights Public School:

It's not about winning, it's about having fun and learning new skills and games.

Selena, student Lidcombe Public School:

It's really fun and enjoyable and it's all for a good cause. It's for your body and you become fit so it's a win-win situation.

Professor Anthony Okely, University of Wollongong:

Regular participation in physical activity which is defined for school-age children of at least 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous intensity activity each day has been linked with a range of health benefits that cover most areas body including cognitive development, social development physical development.

Professor David Lubans:

Being active can help reduce anxiety and depression. We know that young people are active high levels of self-esteem and a better quality of life.

Cindy Waldock, Teacher Wheeler Heights Public School:

So it increases each child's ability to concentrate in class. They are more focused when we come back from a PE lesson. So I think it in then spills over into other KLAS, the benefits of children being able to focus, stay on task, be engaged in what they're doing.

Priscella Wright, Teacher Wheeler Heights Public School:

It's about, they are really settled if we go and do something in the morning before we start. They come in and are ready to learn and ready to go. So thats the best part for me.

Dr. Richard Keegan:

Knowing that we're actually able to cope with physical challenges and create changes in the world, either through moving objects or interacting with people or whatever it might be.

If we're able to through our movements and through our interactions with the world's actually influence it and get what we want, it tends to make us happier.

Mel Currie, Teacher Brunswick Heads Public School:

They feel that they can achieve at sport and I think that will encourage them as adults to join sport, whereas if they lacked those skills and we don't teach them in Primary School, sport isn't going be as much fun in high school. So you start to get an image that it’s not a fun thing to do which lifetime life long wise, is going to have a fairly big impact on what they do to keep themselves healthy and what um habits they pass on to their kids.

Emily Rossington, Teacher Tumut Public School:

They have greater confidence in these sports and you hear children say "Oh I didn't even know I could play this game, I'm good at this" and then I think they're more willing to try and join into a local competition because they have realised oh I have tried that at school, I can do it and so they're more likely to play sports out of school. I think that's a great value when students can feel good about themselves and think well I'm gonna get myself into a team, whereas before they may not have.

Sheryl Bruffey, Principal Budawang School:

The benefits are just enormous. Our parents just love it when their kids are physically active during the day. They sleep better at night time. They wake up in a happier mood. They're better behaved during the day and the parents get to have some time to themselves. They can play with their siblings. You know the benefits of teaching a child how to ride a tricycle, for example means that suddenly they can be involved in activities that they were excluded from prior to that. Teaching a child how to play on play equipment in a park and how to interact appropriate with other children in a park. That can make the difference between a good day out for a family and a disaster. When you're physically active your serotonin levels are higher. Which means that our children are less likely to suffer from depression, and depression is a real problem for people with a disability especially when they can't voice their issues. So being able to get out in the community, meet other people, make sure that you're, um, building up your serotonin levels, those things are really vital.

Professor David Lubans:

Through the friendship networks that have developed through sport and certain physical activities, young people develop resilience that is going to provide them with the foundation for which their mental health will be established.

Question: Why is physical literacy important?:

Professor Anthony Okely:

Physical literacy is important because just as reading, writing, vocabulary, comprehension are essential for developing literacy there are basic or fundamental skills that are essential to becoming a physically active person or a competent mover.

Renee West:

Unsatisfactory early experiences of physical activity can create children, and adults, who are both unable and unwilling to attempt physical activity. A more inclusive and holistic approach to planned physical activity is required, with an equal focus on movement proficiency, motivation and confidence to move and appreciation of the value of moving.

Professor David Lubans:

Our society has changed. There's no question that it's much easier to be sedentary now and providing young people with the knowledge and skills to be active now for the rest of their lives is of utmost importance.

Dr. Richard Keegan:

If we can offer them fulfilling opportunities to move and engage with the world they won't all lead to sufficient activity to be healthy but they will lead to happier people, more motivated people. People who feel capable and more likely to go out and do activities.

Question: Where does physical literacy fit in NSW schools?

Professor Anthony Okely:

Given that children spend a lot of their time in schools, we should be trying to look at how we can use that time effectively, how we can train teachers and provide them with the resources and the skills that they need to be able to identify physical literacy skills within the students.

And then how they can take steps to try and improve those skills amongst their students and move them along the continuum to becoming more proficient and competent movers.

Renee West:

In New South Wales we see physical literacy as a capability that can be developed through PDHPE, school sport and across other contexts for physical activity and movement based learning. Physical literacy is not an alternative to physical activity, physical education or school sport. It's not in competition with physical education or school sport. Physical literacy is developed and supported through effective planned physical activity such as PDHPE and school sport.

Professor David Lubans:

I think physical literacy fits everywhere in the New South Wales schools. It's not just about physical education or school sport. It's about what we offer at recess and lunch time.

What's offered after school and also how involved parents to promote physical activity. Whether that's through homework or through home-school interactions.

Dr. Richard Keegan:

One version of physical literacy is to create not just individuals who are physically literate and value movement but cultures that are physically literate and value movement.

And that's why it's really important to come at this from education perspective and invest in our future.

So we want that physically literate culture as well as a physically literate individual at the end of our education.

NSW Government Education and Communities, Public Schools NSW

End of transcript

How to use the NSW physical literacy continuum

Duration: 4 minutes 30 minutes

Renee West – PDHPE Advisor, NSW Department of Education and Communities:

Understanding what students know and can do, what they need to learn next and how best to teach them is key to differentiating teaching and learning. The Physical Literacy continuum is designed as a practical tool to assist teachers to track and monitor student progress across knowledge understanding skills and attitudes that are regarded as critical to success in lifelong physical activity. The physical literacy continuum is a learning progression that represents two things. Firstly it's a description of the students growth or development in learning. The continuum does not describe the specific learning progress or pathway of every student, but rather it's a description a typical progression. Some students will progress at different rates and in different ways, therefore the continuum is a guide for the teacher and the learner. The continuum also provides a framework to assist teachers to interpret their observations and assessments about student performance. The clusters of markers on the physical literacy continuum focus on what students can do, providing a guide to the point at which the teacher should focus their teaching.

So how is the Physical Literacy continuum organised?

There's four critical aspects that form the framework of the NSW Department of Education and Communities Physical Literacy continuum. These have been identified as critical to the physical literacy achievement of all students. The critical aspects are interrelated. There's no hierarchy within the critical aspects, as they are all essential to student development. The critical aspects include movement competencies.

This aspect involves developing proficiency in stability, object control, and locomotor skills, to sequence movement in a wide variety of physical activity settings. Tactical movement includes understanding physical activity contexts, rules and tactics.

This understanding is used to plan for tactical movement and demonstration of critical and creative thinking through movement. Motivation and behavioural skills include persistence, initiative and working independently in physical activity settings with a focus on the values, attitudes and behavioural skills to plan for and participate in lifelong physical activity.

Personal and social attributes include safety, cooperation, communication and conflict resolution within physical activity settings with a focus on inclusion of others and respectful participation in physical activity and other contexts. Each critical aspect is identified by a coloured sequence that shows the sequence of learning from left to right. Each aspect is divided into sub strands to further clearly identify the learning progression.

The continuum can be read in two ways. It can be read horizontally, to track how the progression of knowledge, skills and attitudes develop from Kindergarten to year 10. It can also be read vertically for a holistic view of how the critical aspects interrelate to describe the expected learning at a particular point in time. Assessment of physical literacy should be seen as the charting of an individuals progress on their personal physical literacy journey.

Formative assessment should be used to ensure that the students results are compared to their own previous results to track individual progression. A number of resources have already been developed and published for schools to start planning from and using, to support the implementation of the physical literacy continuum.

Example documents have been developed. These PDFs show translations of what the physical literacy continuum markers look like across a variety of physical activity contexts. A number work samples and gold standard videos are available to show the marker across contexts. Both assessment resources and resources to support progression across aspects are available and will continue to be developed in partnership with teachers and schools. These resources include units of work, teaching and learning activities and strategies, sample assessment tasks and marking criteria which are mapped to both syllabus outcomes and physical literacy continuum markers and clusters. These resources are all located on the Physically Active Schools website through the Department Intranet.

NSW Government Education and Communities, Public Schools NSW

End of transcript

Improving practice with the NSW physical literacy continuum

Duration: 3 minutes 52 minutes

What's nice about the physical literacy continuum is really based on the existing evidence about what are, what are the attributes that young people need to have to be active now and for the rest of their lives. And we know that it's not just about fundamental movement skills but also about their motivational profiles. It's about the knowledge that they have. It's also about their behaviouralskills, their awareness of games and also those personal and social attributes that are gonna make them good members of society.

One of the benefits that I see is how this might be able to change practice, is that we may end up seeing as a result, higher levels of physical activity, lower levels of physical inactivity among our students and that we can directly attribute that to the physical literacy continuum and support the outstanding work the teachers are already doing.

So by offering a continuum, not only is the teacher empowered to think their way through it the links and the progressions become more clear.

Providing and creating a physical literacy continuum gives a legitimacy to the importance of physical activity in the school setting. It allows teachers to work together as teams to be reflective on their practice and to evaluate what they're doing.

And we know from the research that that has perhaps the biggest effect on student learning than any other factor. The teacher is empowered to to navigate and to steer and to say I know what's going on I can see where the kids are up to. I can see how I can fit in that course I went on, or the training I had at University. And so in a simple document really, it's actually putting the power in the teachers hands.

The physical literacy continuum is a tangible resource that aims to improve teacher confidence, skills and capacity to provide quality learning opportunities and assessment for students in PDHPE and school sport and other physical activity contexts. It does this through identifying what success and improvement looks like for students in the practical setting. The physical literacy continuum offers a number of opportunities for schools, teachers and students to promote effective practice in the areas of learning, teaching and leadership.

We can align these opportunities with the School Excellence Framework as part of school planning. In the learning domain, the physical literacy continuum could support school wide collective responsibility for student learning and success and promote opportunities for students to thrive and succeed in a wide range of experiences.

The continuum supports differentiated curriculum delivery to meet students needs and supports effective assessment for learning to identify achievement and a personalised approach.

The physical literacy continuum also offers school communities a student performance measure outside of literacy and numeracy to provide a more holistic view of student achievement. In the teaching domain the physical literacy continuum supports teachers to review and revise teaching and learning programs using student data. The continuum encourages collaborative professional learning, planning and sharing by actively engaging teachers in their own professional learning to improve practice. The continuum and it's supporting resources will build teacher capacity to use and analyse student assessment and data promoting consistent teacher judgment. As a result of these actions, teachers will implement curriculum and demonstrate knowledge of effective practice in PDHPE and school sport to meet professional standards.

In the leadership domain the physical literacy continuum will bring networks together with a common language for transition and provide opportunities to build leadership and partnerships in physical activity.

NSW Government Education and Communities, Public Schools NSW

End of transcript

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