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Creating Positive Learning Environments

The choices that students make about health and physical activity, the actions they go on to take, and the habits they form are linked to their sense of belonging, at home, at school, and in the wider community. When the school provides a caring and supportive environment, students feel valued and are able to contribute to school and community life.


[Values] are expressed in the ways in which people think and act. No schooling is value-free. Values are mostly learned through students' experience of the total environment, rather than through direct instruction.


The New Zealand Curriculum Framework, page 21

All adult members of the school community should recognise the powerful influence they have as role models since their attitudes and values are continuously demonstrated to students by their actions. The whole-school environment should support and enhance learning in health education and physical education.

All members of the school community should work together to:

  • respond sensitively to students' needs
  • value the unique contributions of students from various cultural backgrounds
  • provide experiences that support the development of positive attitudes, trust, and mutual respect
  • use teaching and learning approaches that reinforce the development of a sense of personal and social responsibility
  • ensure that the policies, practices, and structures of the school agree with the aims and achievement objectives of this curriculum
  • provide "a safe physical and emotional environment for students", as required by National Administration Guideline 5 (i).

The importance of the affective learning environment for student learning has been highlighted by research in New Zealand classrooms. Many of the issues addressed in health and physical education require sensitive handling since they relate to personal beliefs, customs, and attitudes, which can vary widely among individuals and cultures. Students' capacity for achievement is significantly reduced when they experience embarrassment, humiliation, exclusion, alienation, and discrimination. When schools and teachers establish guidelines collaboratively, they are able to set clear parameters about the attitudes and actions that are expected in the classroom and other learning environments.