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Horsham Downs School


Teachers have a clearer understanding of the scope of physical education in developing more than just physical skills.


Aim/Focus: Curriculum

To build teachers’ confidence and capability in the teaching of quality physical education (PE).


Full primary (years 1–8); School roll – 200

Considerations: Keeping this manageable while integrating other strategic goals and school commitments.

Previous successes

The vast majority of our students are involved in physical play at interval and lunchtimes. Wider access to gear as a result of students’ requests (2006 survey) has been a key factor.

Links with community and outside agencies to promote involvement in physical activity (PA) outside school hours continue to develop.

We have changed to Hamilton City Netball from Eastern Waikato at Taupiri, because it allows more involvement by all of our students at an appropriate level. We are beginning to 'build' netball in our school from a younger age. In 2006, 19 students were involved; in 2007, 28 were involved.

As a result of our 2006 community survey, we have established a hockey team at the school for the first time.

A school basketball team is now playing on Friday nights, which had not happened for some time.

Negotiations are continuing with the District Council over funding opportunities for a community walkway.

We are making greater use of outside providers to promote involvement in sports and provide professional development opportunities for staff. This year we will use providers from Hamilton Junior Cricket, and Sport Waikato for hockey and badminton.

Identified needs

When staff were surveyed, several indicated they would like the opportunity to develop confidence and skill in teaching PE. A key issue was their own lack of knowledge in specific physical skills (that is, what do well-executed skills look like?).

In 2003/04 the school was involved in the AToL (Assess to Learn) contract. Formative assessment practices are already embedded in our teaching in other curriculum areas, so it seemed obvious this needed to happen in PE as well.

The school was involved in a range of other initiatives and commitments, such as the school-wide production in term 3, and there was a need and desire to pull all of these threads together with the following strategic goals:

  1. To implement innovative and effective classroom practices to allow students to engage in deeper thinking (involvement in Extending Higher Standards Across Schools (EHSAS) contract).
  2. To introduce and sustain the professional development goals of the drama contract.
  3. To promote quality PA for students within the context of PE programmes.

Process undertaken


  1. Further professional development of Lead Teacher/s, including a fundamental movement skills course and support in developing a game-centred approach to teaching PE.
  2. Team meeting (process started with senior team, which has had continuity of staff involved in the contract; modifications already made to teaching style, using a more formative approach from School Community Physical Activity Project (SCPAP) involvement in 2006).
  3. Sharing of key philosophies/information from courses.
  4. Context chosen to fine-tune planning style/trial new and existing resources. Balance and rotation chosen as areas of focus because:
    • indoor environment – bad weather has affected delivery, so this way lessons are 'guaranteed' to happen
    • encourages trust/cooperation/risk taking/creativity, which are identified as 'needs', and also links with EHSAS goal
    • teachers expressed a lack of confidence in teaching in this area
    • unit well supported by Kiwi Gym Fun resource, which teachers had little experience in using, and we wanted to show less confident teachers how to utilise this valuable resource
    • opportunity to trial 'fundamental skills' assessment.

    5.  Key goals/principles of unit identified, based on students’ needs/school goals (while linking to                curriculum objectives):

  • to improve students’ ability to work independently and cooperatively in groups.


Student successes

  • Having a greater input. Becoming 'thinking participants' at all stages before, during, and after activity.
  • Clearly able to see connections to their lives. No negativity about gymnastics. Transferring this to other contexts, such as learning to jump not being just about athletics, but having lots of other applications.
  • Changing stereotypes about what gymnastics is and applying to other physical contexts.
  • Widening students’ views/attitudes.
  • Key goals of cooperation/trust/creativity achieved. (Cooperative balances great for this!)
  • Students beginning to understand that through PE, they can develop other skills.
  • Successfully learning new skills based on key principles. For example, many have discovered the triangular base in gymnastics makes headstands possible!
  • The school production has further cemented the PA culture within the school. Benefits of health-promoting activities featuring more in casual conversations.

Teacher successes

  • Clearer understanding of the scope of PE in developing more than just physical skills.
  • Beginning to fill some gaps in teachers’ content knowledge. Clearer picture of what well-executed movement skills should look like. The Kiwi Gym fun cards, fundamental skills resource for teaching the forward roll and Developing Fundamental Movement Skills resource very helpful for teachers looking to develop skills in teaching running and jumping.
  • Greater knowledge of the resources available to teach specific skills and the progressions for teaching.
  • Much more dialogue/interest among the staff about PE, sharing how things are going, questioning, and so on.
  • Increased confidence in teaching PE.
  • Reflecting on and questioning current practice.
  • Staff beginning to explore tools and strategies, and making connections/critical decisions about what is appropriate to support the learning.
  • Taking risks to use students’ needs to decide what the learning focus will be ‑ for example, a year 8 dance unit.


  • Staff changes, particularly in the lead team.
  • School commitments – 'juggling too many balls' to allow sufficient energy to be focused on this particular area.
  • Lack of time to provide the depth of support the teachers really need to make the required shifts.


  • Lead Teachers are getting a clearer understanding of the elements of quality teaching and learning in PE through taking up opportunities to develop their own confidence and capability in PE.
  • Cooperative planning provided opportunities for increased reflection, discussion, and engagement of teachers.

Next steps

  • Build on the groundwork that has been laid over the past two years.
  • Take the time to support the staff to develop their confidence and competence.
  • Develop an action plan that focuses specifically on this goal, using a whole school approach and identifying and addressing all components of a positive school community PA culture.