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The Needs of Learners

The needs of learners should be considered within the contexts of:

  • their current physical, social, intellectual, and emotional development
  • the classroom and school environment
  • the special nature of their communities
  • a wider knowledge about the health status, needs, and physical activity patterns of children, adolescents, and adults in New Zealand society.

Those who identify students' learning needs should be informed by consultation with the students themselves, school staff members, parents, caregivers, and education professionals.

Cultural Inclusiveness

New Zealand's bicultural heritage is unique and is important to all New Zealanders. Schools and teachers need to:

  • ensure that the concept of hauora is reflected in students' learning experiences in health education and physical education at all levels of schooling
  • recognise that te reo Maori and nga tikanga Maori are taonga and have an important place within the health and physical education curriculum
  • develop health education and physical education concepts within Maori and other cultural contexts that are relevant to students, for example, in the context of te reo kori.

Te reo kori encourages the exploration of Maori language, concepts, and values. It promotes the development of physical skills, self-awareness, and confidence and also provides an opportunity for students to experience and understand aspects of the culture of the tangata whenua.

Health education and physical education programmes must be inclusive of the diverse groups within New Zealand society, recognising and valuing the experiences, cultural traditions, histories, and languages of all New Zealanders. In developing a culturally inclusive curriculum, it is important to:

  • recognise that students may need to meet more than one set of cultural expectations
  • ensure that members of cultural groups within the local and wider community are consulted when the school health and physical education programme is developed
  • ensure that the teaching practices, the language, and the resource materials used in the school environment are non-racist and culturally inclusive.

Gender Inclusiveness

Health and Physical Education in the New Zealand Curriculum (1999) provides many opportunities for teachers and schools to address issues that specifically affect the learning experiences of girls or boys and to select learning outcomes that are equitable, regardless of gender, across all essential learning areas.

Health education and physical education programmes that are gender inclusive will:

  • incorporate a range of experiences that are relevant to the knowledge, skills, and aspirations of both boys and girls, using gender inclusive language, resource materials, and illustrative examples
  • ensure that both girls and boys take active leadership roles in health education and physical education settings
  • provide opportunities for students to critically analyse the ways in which some existing concepts of masculinity and femininity may have a detrimental effect on the health and the physical activity patterns of boys and girls, men and women
  • provide opportunities for boys and girls to develop knowledge, understandings, skills, and behaviours that will enable them to achieve relationships characterised by equality and mutual respect
  • provide role models, for both girls and boys, of men and women who are encouraging, sensitive, tolerant, assertive, and physically active
  • encourage girls and boys to participate in all aspects of health education and physical education in an atmosphere that challenges gender stereotyping and discrimination
  • ensure that boys and girls have equitable access to resources, including teacher time, learning assistance, and technologies, across all learning activities.

Meeting the Needs of Students with Special Needs and Abilities


The school curriculum will provide learning opportunities which will enable all students to achieve the learning objectives to the best of their ability.


The New Zealand Curriculum Framework, page 6

Students who have exceptional ability in health education and physical education, along with students who have a temporary or permanent disability (whether sensory, physical, social, or intellectual), require programmes that extend them, challenge them, and broaden their abilities. These groups of students need programmes adapted and organised to provide access to relevant opportunities, meet their individual needs, and contribute to the development of their awareness of their personal identity and their sense of self-worth.

It is important that students with special needs and abilities:

  • are identified early
  • have their learning needs addressed from the beginning, through relevant and consistent programmes
  • work at their own pace
  • work towards goals and face challenges that encourage them to develop to their full potential
  • are valued by their peers, their teachers, the school, and the wider community
  • help to plan programmes to meet their particular learning needs
  • are included in regular lessons (and that resources or teaching approaches are adapted, as appropriate, to meet their special needs).

The teachers who identify students with special needs should consult with parents, other teachers, and specialist educators before designing and implementing special learning programmes. Students with disabilities should be provided with means of access to all school facilities.