A Guide to the New PDHPE Syllabus

Michelle Maher introduces you to the new K-10 syllabus which is mandatory for Years 7 and 9 in 2019…

As we begin implementation of the new syllabus, this article outlines key aspects and suggests some approaches to ensuring the new design and content are relevant for your school context.

Important dates

It is important to note that you may continue to use existing programs for K-6 and Year 8 and Year 10 cohorts in 2019. Whilst implementation of the syllabus across these cohorts is not mandatory before 2020, designing a clear path for content and skill development can ensure the sequential development of effective teaching and learning programs over the next two years. With implementation of Year 7 and Year 9 programs in 2019, professional development time needs to be invested in the development of authentic programs which integrate the new strands and skill domains.

Same, same but different

Whilst there are clear instructions around syllabus implementation, this syllabus encourages schools to mould the delivery of strands, skills and content to provide authentic learning for individual school contexts. Each strand must be addressed each year, but schools have the autonomy to manage course delivery in the way that best suits their students and the resources that are available to them to address the syllabus outcomes.

The refinement of the K-10 PDHPE syllabus from four to three strands significantly increases the opportunity to integrate content and impart greater relevance to students. The new syllabus strands: Health, Wellbeing and Relationships; Movement Skill and Performance and Healthy, Safe and Active Lifestyles, reinforce the importance of lifelong physical activity and positive health habits, equipping students with the skills to manage their health in an informed and purposeful manner. The content is organised around five propositions, the most notable being the move to a strengths-based approach. The propositions are:

  • Take a strengths-based approach;
  • Value movement;
  • Focus on educative purposes;
  • Include a critical inquiry approach; and
  • Develop health literacy.

When combined with the integrated Learning Across the Curriculum and Skills Domains, the content and syllabus structure promotes connection to “real-life” issues. This focus is particularly strengthened by three skill domains, Self-management Skills, Interpersonal Skills and Movement Skills (SIM), which are embedded within the outcomes and content of the syllabus. It is important to note that each domain, not every skill, must be addressed across each year of learning.

Another new development is the nine key inquiry questions which shape content, map outcomes and drive the focus of learning in each stage. Content is no longer directed by ‘learn about’ and ‘learn to’ statements but is organised under the key inquiry questions. All topics in Stages 4 and 5 are mandatory and schools have the freedom to decide on the degree of focus on each dot point in line with the needs and interests of their students.

New topics

In a world where we see a growing reliance on technology and engagement with social media, the inclusion of specific content to assist students to maintain personal safety online is important. A strong focus on the ethical use of technology and the development of strategies to manage online conflict will allow students to interact with relevant content and develop necessary skills to navigate their changing world. As students progress to Stage 5, the syllabus introduces more “real-life” experiences such as: create and evaluate health campaigns, programs or mobile applications that aim to promote fitness or participation in a lifetime of physical activity. This inclusion excites me as it opens prospects to analyse personal fitness devices such as FitBits or Apple watches, develop code for their own fitness app or implement a school-based fitness program. If you need further support embedding technology into your lessons, check out the handy links for integrating technology into PDHPE (PDHPE Curriculum Directorate).

Unlike previous models, the new syllabus directs the use of feedback in movement activities on a continuum from responding to reviewing, proposing and implementing alterative responses based on past performance or feedback. The Australian Council for Health Physical Education and Recreation offer workshops on assessment in NSW tailored to the new syllabus, and if you are looking for easy and effective ways to integrate technology into practical settings visit The PE GeekThe shift in the new syllabus away from traditional assessment methods also creates opportunity to increase enjoyment and engagement in learning for teachers and students alike.

To assist teachers to assess the value and appropriateness of new resources before using these as part of a teaching program, the Department has developed the Teacher Resource Flowchart.

Where you can access support

The most important thing for teachers moving towards implementation is to engage in the wide range of face-to-face and online professional learning experiences on offer. There are ten online PDHPE NESA-registered professional learning courses available through MyPL, and the NSW PDHPE Curriculum website features substantive links to support planning and implementation of the new syllabus. The Centre for Professional Learning also offers courses to support syllabus implementation. Participation in these professional learning opportunities can provide an opportunity to engage in professional networks, share ideas and resources and build confidence in the delivery of a new and engaging K-10 PDHPE syllabus.

Michelle Maher has 31 years of experience as a PDHPE teacher in NSW public schools and has been heavily involved in the professional development of teachers. Michelle has written textbooks for Stage 4, 5 and 6 PDHPE courses and has engaged in the development of syllabus documents and curriculum support resources for PDHPE and PASS syllabuses. Michelle is an experienced Stage 6 PDHPE Senior Marker and Head Teacher who currently convenes the Hunter HT PDHPE Network.