Do Australian schools need more sport?

With the Olympics having come to an end, media reports continue to discuss suggestions that there is too little emphasis on sport in Australian schools something that has arisen due to Australia's comparatively poor performance in this year's games.

Olympic chief John Coates has blamed Australia's performance on the governments' failure to make sport compulsory in schools, suggesting that increasing the emphasis on sport in schools would help Australia produce better athletes.

While sport is already a compulsory part of the curriculum, there has been talk of increasing its importance and encouraging competitive sport.

Football team in huddle

Current regulations for sport in schools

Each state has slightly different regulations, although these differ between schools (non-government schools generally follow their own regulations). Check with your child's school for more information.

  • New South Wales
    The Department of Education and Training (DET) suggests that schools allocate two hours per week for planned physical activity from kindergarten to Year 6, including a minimum of one hour per week for sport in Years 3 “6. In Years 7 to 10, it is expected that schools provide students with two hours of planned physical activity, which includes physical education and sport. There are also seven sports high schools, which combine a traditional academic curriculum with sports programs.
  • Queensland
    In Queensland, primary schools are required to provide 30 minutes of physical activity per day as part of the school curriculum. At secondary level, it is expected that the lower-secondary curriculum includes at least two hours of moderate intensivity physical activity per week. See Smart Moves for more information.
  • Victoria
    In Victoria, government schools are required to meet mandatory participation requirements: 20 “30 minutes per day for Prep “Year 3 students, three hours per week of sport and physical education in Years 4 “6, and 200 minutes per week divided between sport and physical education for Years 7 “10. See Activate your School for more information. Victoria also hastwo specialist sports high schools Maribyrnong Sports Academy (part of Maribyrnong Secondary College) and Box Hill Senior Secondary College.

Competitive or out-of-school sport is encouraged but not compulsory, although it is has been suggested that this may be the answer to Australia's performance woes. Education Minister, Peter Garrett, has ruled out making competitive sport compulsory, stressing that children should not be forced to play a sport if they have other interests.

Some have also argued that the recent focus on improving literacy and numeracy standards (largely due to the use of ˜high stakes' testing such as NAPLAN) mean that schools do not see the value in increasing sport participation.

How will the Australian Curriculum affect the sports curriculum?

The Australian Curriculum: Health and Physical Education (Foundation to Year 10) will be made up of two streams: ˜personal, social and community health' and ˜movement and physical activity'. It is hoped that the two strands will provide a balance between health and movement education. Although not yet finalised, it is expected that the curriculum will include a time allocation of 80 hours per year.

Further information

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