The learning area of Health and Physical Education is designed to help students acquire the knowledge, understanding and skills they need to lead healthy, safe and active lives. Informed by a strong, multidisciplinary evidence base, the subject is intended to help students to be comfortable in their own skin – to know who they are, why they are the person they are, what they stand for and what factors contribute to making them the person they are. Health and Physical Education also plays a part in making students aware of the people around them, able to celebrate the diversity in their community and to respect difference and challenge discrimination whenever they encounter it. The new Health and Physical Education curriculum has now been published on the Australian Curriculum website and made available for use. The current article looks at the rationale for the curriculum, its structure, and how it was developed.
Since its humble beginnings as a pilot program at one Victorian school, the Stephanie Alexander Kitchen Garden Program has grown to include over 500 schools. As a result, more than 60,000 students in Years 3 to 6 are now being taught how to grow seasonal produce and cook fresh, healthy meals. The not-for-profit Kitchen Garden Foundation was established in 2004 after the overwhelming success of the Kitchen Garden Program pilot at a trial school. The Stephanie Alexander Kitchen Garden National Program is now open to all schools with a primary curriculum and aims to reach 800 schools – 10 per cent of all Australian primary schools – by the end of 2015. Changes to the Program have made it more affordable, accessible and flexible as schools can start small and use what they have, without the need to purchase costly equipment and facilities. Over a decade of experience has shown that students who have hands-on experience of growing their own fresh produce rarely fuss about eating it. In fact the opposite is true – they want to cook it and try it, and they regularly insist that their classmates and families try their new-found favourite foods. Two independent evaluations have validated the success of the Program.
The NAPLAN program was introduced in 2008, after agreement by all ministers, to enable fair and informed comparisons of performance between states and territories, and to measure national performance in literacy and numeracy annually and over time. NAPLAN replaced state and territory tests, some of which had been administered for many years. NAPLAN has much to offer that is positive and of real benefit to students, schools and parents. NAPLAN data provides detailed, item-by-item information about each student's performance. The data can also be aggregated up to a group, class, year level and school level where it informs different and important decisions. NAPLAN data at these different levels of aggregation provides an evidence-base to inform teaching programs, and the use of valuable resources.
Smaller classes significantly improve students' academic performance in the first four years of school, particularly with regard to students disadvantaged by their SES, ethnicity or language background – Evidence Base.