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IN THE SPOTLIGHT: Physical and Health Education

Our curriculum aims to develop knowledge, skills and attitudes that allow students to understand physical development, health perspectives, informed decisions and positive social interaction.

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As John F Kennedy said: “Physical fitness is not only one of the most important keys to a healthy body, it is the basis of dynamic and creative intellectual activity.”

After two years of COVID we are working hard at Preshil to ensure that our students are getting a chance to participate in and embrace Physical Activity through the academic lens of Physical and Health Education. We always endeavour to help our students understand the value of being physically active and making healthy choices, and we also focus on so much more.

Our curriculum aims to develop knowledge, skills and attitudes that allow students to understand physical development, health perspectives, informed decisions and positive social interaction. We also endeavour to give our students the opportunity to sample many different physical activities. We focus on appreciating the ideas of others, collaboration and communication skills and interpersonal relationships. We want our students to develop confidence, enjoyment and engagement in the world around them and we strive to build intercultural understanding where we can. 

In PHE we pride ourselves on the fact that many of the skills we teach are directly transferable to everyday life and transcend just sport-specific skills. We have a focus on teamwork, overcoming failure, taking on feedback as well as facilitating a lifelong love of learning. Our curriculum is mapped out from Year 7 to 10 with careful consideration for which unit fits where and what is developmentally appropriate with an aim to prepare them for Exercise Science in Year 11 and 12. 

In our subject, we tend to split each term into a Physical Unit and a Health Unit, although some units encompass both, such as our Fitness unit in Year 7 and our Coaching unit in Year 9. In the Physical side of PHE we don’t just learn about physical activity, we learn through it, developing skills that can be transferred to situations and environments. The units must be drawn from the following categories:

  • Aesthetic movement (Year 7: Gymnastics, Year 8: Dance, Year 9: Martial Arts, Year 10: Flash Mob)
  • Team sports (Year 7: Global Minded Games, Year 8: Invasion Games & AFL, Year 9: Ultimate Frisbee & Volleyball, Year 10: Striking Games, Soccer & Hockey)
  • Individual sports (Year 7: Fitness, Gymnastics, Swimming, Year 9: Coaching)
  • International sports/activities (Year 7: Global Games, Year 8: AFL & Indigenous Games, Year 9: Martial Arts). 

We integrate physical and health-related knowledge such as components of fitness, training methods, stretching and anatomy to maximise opportunities for students to embrace physical activity on their own terms. We explore a range of activities such as European Handball, Tchoukball, Volleyball, Lacrosse, Martial Arts and Ultimate Frisbee.

The Health Education units aim to provide our students with the knowledge and skills to tackle the challenges life will throw at them both as teenagers and adults. We aim to give opportunities for student lead learning, the refinement of their research skills and participation in robust class discussions. We also provide links to Safe websites, for students to research information safely. We cover topics in Sexuality Education such as Puberty, Healthy Relationships, Consent, Pornography and STIs. We use the Harm Minimisation approach to educate about partying safely. We look at Cyber Safety, Nutrition and Sports Issues in Society as well as Mental Health. While these topics might be tricky for some, we honestly believe that having these conversations in a safe environment where they can ask questions openly is the best practice for our students to become responsible and educated young people. 

When we assess our units PHE we look at four main criteria. These are Knowing and Understanding (A), Planning for Performance (B), Applying and Performing (C) and Reflecting and Improving Performance (D). Each of these criteria is made up of strands that are assessed at least once a semester. Getting our students to think critically about their performance in PHE, plan out strategies beforehand and then reflect afterwards makes the learning more meaningful and helps consolidate long-term knowledge. 

The PHE Department is also focusing on integrating the MYP’s Approaches to Learning (Thinking, Social, Communication, Self-Management, Research) into our units both explicitly and implicitly. This involves teaching research skills, creating self-management plans and working on communication and social skills. Physical Education and Health lend themselves organically to the ATLs, but it is important to ensure that they are being actively addressed and assessed in class. 

The students are still getting back in the process of Physical Education and class structures and requirements. We would encourage students to wear clothes that are appropriate for moving on the days that they have PHE. We are also working on the shared expectation that participation is mandatory. We work hard at Preshil to create classes that are scaffolded for all and endeavour for PHE to be a safe space where everyone can be involved.

Our 2022 Units:

Incursions and Excursion

This term we were lucky enough to have an instructor come in and teach our Year 9s the basics of Karate. This is to complement Capoeira and Boxing in our Martial Arts unit to give students the knowledge they need to create their own routines. We learned blocks, hits and kicks as well as some self defence strategies.

Our Year 9 students engaging in Karate with an external instructor.

At the end of Term 3 we have Elephant Ed coming in to run workshops for our Year 7 and 9 students to complement their Term 3 Sexuality Education units. This organisation is doing great work with schools across Victoria and we are excited for our students to get the chance to work with them. We are also hoping to lock in Swimming for Year 7 in Term 4 for the last five weeks of term, although this has been difficult and will likely be a modified curriculum as COVID has ravaged the swim teacher industry.



Year 7 PHE Physical Unit

Unit Title: Gymnastics 
Statement of Inquiry:  Working together can develop movement that effectively adapts to the space available.

Questions we will be exploring: 

  • What are the four main types of movement in Gymnastics?
  • What makes for an “effective working relationship”?
  • What must be done to improve a gymnastics movement? 
  • How can we reach agreement constructively?
  • Must everyone be good at gymnastics for the group to have a good performance?

Unit Details:

Throughout this unit, students will learn the four basic categories of Gymnastic Movement- Balance, Rotation, Spring/Landing/Locomotion, Strength and Power. In each category, there are three levels of difficulty so that students are able to select movements they feel comfortable with and differentiate their own learning. After they have had a chance to explore and practice they will work in groups of 2 – 3 to create a Gymnastics routine that includes at least two of these categories and displays their abilities in the way that works best for them.

Year 7 students practising partner and individual balances in their Gymnastics unit.

Year 7 PHE Health Unit

Unit Title: Ch-ch-ch-changes – Puberty  
Statement of Inquiry:  Changes in our body systems and their functions are different for each individual

Questions we will be exploring:

  • What are the physical changes that males and females go through during puberty?
  • What are the emotional changes that males and females go through during puberty?
  • Can puberty create confusion for an individual?
  • How does one’s understanding of identity change during puberty?

Unit Details:
This unit assumes some knowledge of puberty from primary school and looks to recap the basics before focusing on physical changes in adolescence (naming genital parts, wet dreams, skin issues), changes in a timeline of life and intro to social/emotional impacts (e.g. peer/family dramas, communication skills), masturbation, personal hygiene (bodily odours / period maintenance options) as well as understanding the male and female reproductive cycle. The unit is taught with the understanding that not all students will identify as their assigned gender at birth, and opportunities are given to ask anonymous questions each lesson for students to guide their own learning.

Year 8 PHE Physical Unit

Unit Title: Australian Sports – Indigenous Roots
Statement of Inquiry:  Participating in sports from our First Nations’ cultures shows how they have been developed, adapted and share similar concepts with other sporting activities. 

Questions we will be exploring: 

  • What Indigenous game has been linked to AFL?
  • What skills can be transferred from Indigenous Games to AFL?
  • Can AFL’s roots be linked to Marn Grook or to Gaelic Football?

Unit Details:
This unit teaches students about the sport of AFL while making connections to Indigenous games, linking the skills and strategies to the modern game. Students will be given the opportunity to explore Marn Grook which has officially been recognised by the AFL as one of the inspirations for the game, while thinking critically and drawing their own conclusions. Students will learn the basic skills of kicking and handballing before applying these to both Indigenous games and AFL 9s. 

Year 8 students at Vic Park practicing AFL Skills.

Year 8 PHE Physical Unit

Unit Title: Sports Issues in Society
Statement of Inquiry:  Analysing the issues that arise in sports gives broadens insight into the perspective of others and acts like a lens on society.

Questions we will be exploring: 

  • What is the difference between inequity and inequality?
  • What are the two main issues associated with gender inequality in sport?
  • What has caused racial discrimination in sport in Australia?
  • What are some strategies to reduce each kind of discrimination in sport?
  • Should transgender athletes be allowed to compete professionally?
  • Should performance-enhancing drugs be banned?

Unit Details:
This unit gives students the opportunity to discuss and explore the many issues surrounding inequalities in sport, both at amateur and professional levels. The course involves class discussions and independent research into racism, sexism, ableism, homophobia and religious discrimination in support. There aims to be scope for debate and the sharing of opinions, culminating in a final presentation on the sporting issue of the student’s choice.

Year 9 PHE Physical Unit

Unit Title: Martial Arts – Not Just for Self Defence
Statement of Inquiry: Examining movement rituals and etiquette helps individuals and cultures to develop balanced practices.

Questions we will be exploring:

  • What is the background of Karate?
  • What is the background of Capoeira?
  • What is the definition of Aesthetic Movement?
  • What are the key tenants of martial arts?
  • How can martial arts help me to develop as a person?
  • Are martial arts a violent practice?

Unit Details:
The unit will introduce students to a variety of martial arts techniques, stances and practices and will draw on the knowledge of those who have engaged with martial arts previously. Through a variety of activities and exercises, students will improve the fitness of their body, mind and spirit, through the lens of aesthetic movement:

  • By learning and participating in stretching, strengthening and conditioning exercises, students will learn about the importance of physical fitness in their lives.
  • By learning martial arts stances, kicks and blocks, students will learn basic self-defence and increase their self-confidence and overall wellness.

Students will apply this knowledge in discussions of aesthetic movement and the concepts surrounding this. Students will work together to create martial arts routines.

Year 9 students exploring Capoeira and Karate.

Year 9 PHE Health Unit

Unit Title:  Let’s Talk About Sex 
Statement of Inquiry:  interactions assists populations to establish fair and respectful societies. 

Questions we will be exploring: 

  • What is the definition of consent?
  • What is the age of consent in Victoria?
  • What does giving consent look like?
  • What are some of the impacts Pornography can have on teenagers?

Unit Details:
Over this unit students will explore the topic of consent, sexual relationships and pornography. Through class discussions and presentations students will learn about the age of consent in Victoria, what giving consent looks like and explore statistics and scenarios surrounding sexual assault. They will also consider the impact of pornography on teenager’s attitudes to sex and whether this results in healthy sexual relationships. Students will also be given the chance to ask anonymous questions to self direct their own learning.

Year 10 PHE Physical Unit

Unit Title: Soccer & Futsal
Statement of Inquiry:  Teams with strong game sense and effective communication gain a competitive advantage

Questions we will be exploring: 

  • What methods of communication are effective during a match?
  • What positions and situations on-field increase the chances of a clean shot at goal?
  • If a strategy works once, will it always work?
  • Can effective teamwork and strategy overcome a deficit in skill?

Unit Details:
Over this unit, students will practice the skills and strategies of Soccer in small-sided games. They will work with their classmates to participate in drills that are designed to increase match effectiveness. A variety of pre-planned movement patterns will be explored with the students analysing them for their strengths and weaknesses. The notion of a team being a “one trick pony” will be explored. Can using a moving pattern that we know is slightly less effective on one passage of play be employed simply in order to create uncertainty for the opposition on the next play?

Year 10 students enjoying Soccer in PHE.

Year 10 PHE Health Unit

Unit Title: Mental  Health – Resilience, Anxiety and Procrastination 
Statement of Inquiry:  Actively addressing our perspective of our daily schedule, responsibilities, emotions, social interactions and needs/wants can help to provide balance which can improve our mental well-being.

Questions we will be exploring: 

  • Is our mental wellbeing fixed or dynamic?
  • How is our current state of mental wellbeing affected by the events around us?
  • Who are the people or agencies that you can talk to when something is bothering you?
  • How do people actively address their mental wellbeing?
  • How does resilience affect mental wellbeing and how can we develop it?

Unit Details:
When young people seek help, it’s typically from informal, non-professional sources such as friends, family, or teachers rather than professional sources such as a GP or mental health professional. Many young people believe that they can handle emotional problems on their own, and often report concerns relating to confidentiality, a fear that no person or service could help, and the feeling that the problem was too personal to tell anyone, as barriers to seeking help. It is important to note the distinction between mental wellness and mental health. We often focus on mental illness and their treatment, however it is important to note that many people move through life surviving but never thriving. Everyone can actively employ techniques designed to improve aspects of their mental wellness within the categories of positive emotions, engagement, relationships, meaning and accomplishment.

Year 11 and 12 – Exercise Science 

In year 11 and 12, students can choose to undertake the IB Diploma course of Sports, Exercise and Health Science.  MYP physical and health education courses, in combination with MYP Science, helps to prepare students for this.

This course enables students to inquire into systems of the human body and explore how and why these systems work together. In their study of sports, exercise and health science, students learn how to apply their knowledge and understanding by critically analysing human performance and through planning and conducting laboratory investigations.

Our students have been revising the more intricate aspects of the course in preparation for their exams at the end of the year. In addition they have completed collecting data for their IA and are in the midst of analysing it. Their aim is to employ a scientific investigation and analyse whether the data they collect matches what the science suggests should occur.

An extra spotling on Sporting Opportunities!

After School Sport: 

Whilst the PHE curriculum is very different from School Sport and we like to differentiate between Sport and Physical Education, here seems as good a place as any to spruik our wares! We do things differently here at Preshil, instead of focusing on competition and putting the best team forward like most other schools, our school sport focuses on skill development, opportunities to try new things and most importantly enjoyment. Currently, sessions run on Wednesday (Volleyball) and Thursday (Netball) afternoons 3:30 – 4:30pm in the Cage. All ability levels are welcome!

Students in Years 7 – 9 engaged in After School Sport.


Thursday Throwdown: In line with the PE Curriculum, we aim to promote a lifelong love of Physical Activity. Each Thursday at lunchtime a different sport will be played in the Cage with the aim of promoting sport and positive relationships between year levels. We had an amazing turnout for Dodgeball in Week 2 and soccer in Week 3!  Please encourage your students to join this opportunity!

Students involved in a Thursday lunchtime game of Dodgeball.

Ultimate Frisbee: Some amazing Year 11 students are coaching an Ultimate Frisbee team for their CAS project with the aim of sending a team to an inter-school competition mid-September. We encourage students to sign up for this!

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