Health and Physical Education in New Zealand Primary Schools

Year: 2016

Author: Morrison, Catherine, McKenzie, Alli, Gilmore, Alison

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

We consider that it is important for principals, and those in senior leadership roles, to take a strong lead in ensuring that the teaching and learning that occurs in health and physical education (HPE) in primary schools closely represents the intent of the New Zealand Curriculum (2007). The release of the National Monitoring Study of Student Achievement (NMSSA) in 2015 raises issues for children who are not meeting the requirements of the NZC and requires further investigation. The purpose of NMSSA is to get a broad picture of student achievement in New Zealand primary schools. It does this by assessing representative samples of students at successive points in time. A nationally representative sample of approximately 2000 students at both Year 4 and Year 8 took part in the assessments. The main intention is to provide a snapshot of student achievement against the New Zealand Curriculum and to provide high quality, robust information for policy makers, curriculum planners and educators (Educational Assessment Research Unit & New Zealand Council for Educational Research, 2013). Through investigation via the NMSSA data, this paper draws on the findings of the relationship between a school’s priority ranking for health and physical education and student’s achievement. As an example, the results show that in schools where health and physical education learning is ranked as a high priority for Year 8 children, there is no significant difference in student achievement at those schools, compared to students from other schools, where health and physical education is ranked as only a middle or low priority. There has been some concern expressed about the quality of teaching and learning that occurs with frequent use of external providers for the delivery of HPE in schools. These concerns include pedagogical limitations and questions whether external providers have knowledge or expertise of the New Zealand Curriculum. This therefore raises the question about understandings within schools about what ‘prioritising’ in HPE may mean in practice and if this in anyway could be linked to achievement and progress in schools.ReferencesMinistry of Education (2014). National Monitoring of Student Achievement in Health and Physical Education, 2013. Educational Assessment Research Unit and New Zealand Council for Educational Research: University of Otago, Dunedin, New ZealandMinistry of Education (2007). The New Zealand Curriculum. Wellington, New Zealand: Learning Media.