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Extra 25 phys ed advisors for NZ primary schools

Extra 25 phys ed advisors for NZ primary schools

The government is significantly boosting the number of specialist physical activity advisers around the country as part of an $8 million initiative to encourage kiwi kids to become more physically active, Sport and Recreation and Education Minister Trevor Mallard announced today.

“This investment in quality physical activity in schools will support a change of regulations that I signalled in October that will mean schools will be required to give priority to regular, quality physical activity for all students especially in years 1-6.

"The funding is on top of a $6.5 million four year package, which is going into SPARC's (Sport and Recreation New Zealand) Active Schools initiative, a project that is also aimed at enhancing physical activity in schools," Trevor Mallard said.

“The increased focus on physical activity in primary schools will get under way next year, and the new regulation will take full effect from the beginning of the 2006 school year. Some schools are already doing well in this area but we want to give all schools and all students the chance to improve through this extra support.

“Our government is investing in this area because of concerns about declining physical activity amongst our kids, but also because research has shown that physical activity and motor skill development during school time improves students’ health and wellbeing and their academic achievement," Trevor Mallard said.

"I am not talking about physical activity that just sees kids do extra star jumps or running in circles each week. What we want to see is quality movement that gives kids the skills to enjoy and not be afraid of physical activity, and that enhances their coordination and motor skill development. That's why there will be specialist advisers training up teachers."

Although Health and Physical Education are already compulsory in the school curriculum, there is evidence of declining physical activity levels in children and indications that young people are not picking up the skills and attitudes that will encourage them to be physically active throughout their lives. One option is for schools to provide the extra physical activity using the extra staffing that the government is giving schools to cover teachers' classroom release time that was part of the latest Primary Teachers’ Collective Agreement.

This will put $149 million over four years into ensuring that teachers will get on average one hour release time per week. Bigger schools might employ a specialist teacher, others will have at least one staff member who will work with children and/or the teachers to help lift the overall skill levels.

The $8 million over four years includes
The appointment early next year of an additional 25 physical education advisers, on top of the 3.25 full time equivalents already working in the area.

These advisers will provide extra professional development to teachers in physical activity. Every primary school in New Zealand will be invited to nominate a teacher to receive this additional professional development. Fostering partnerships between primary schools and communities through SPARC's Active Schools initiative.

There will also be the development and publication of guidelines for schools about physical activity in the Health and Physical Education Curriculum.

What will physical education advisers do? The School Support Services physical education advisers will provide professional development for teachers to help schools provide regular quality physical activity experiences for students. SPARC will take the lead for physical activities that occur outside regular teaching and learning programmes. Schools will be invited to nominate a teacher to participate in the professional development which will begin in mid 2005.

Professional development will also be offered to senior management and boards of trustees to assist them to develop an understanding of this project. Their leadership role is important in engaging teachers and students in the teaching and learning process.

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