The Key Ideas of HPE

Term 3, Week 9 2022

The Australian Curriculum: Health and Physical Education has been shaped by five interrelated propositions that are informed by a strong and diverse research base for a futures-oriented curriculum (ACARA). These key ideas remain unchanged in AC: HPE v9, and are a timely reminder of how they serve to aid young people who are making choices about health and wellbeing while following complex life patterns. 

Critical inquiry

Students will critically analyse and critically evaluate contextual factors that influence decision-making, behaviours and actions, and explore inclusiveness, power inequalities, assumptions, diversity and social justice (ACARA).   

As teachers, it encourages us to question what we do within our curriculum. To create opportunities for young people to push against the boundaries of what they actually know. If we can bring that to our classrooms, then our students will go far beyond a questioning approach and really think about the kind of world they want to live in and the kind of world they’d like to construct (Lambert & O’Connor). 

Critical inquiry strategies for the classroom 

  • media text analysis
  • stimulus reflection
  • debating topic
  • use of narratives to explore diverse perspectives around physical activity, bodies and health

Strengths based approach

Focus on supporting students to develop the knowledge, understanding and skills they require to make healthy, safe and active choices that will enhance their own and others’ health and wellbeing (ACARA).  

Drawing on strengths, assets and resources to move forward in meaningful ways. Young people have the potential to become well-rounded, optimistic and positive, despite the ways they are positioned by the media or in popular health discourses. Spin things in an alternative way, and create a different picture. Give young people the opportunity to explore what’s good and what’s worthy (Lambert & O’Connor). 

Strength based approach for the classroom 

  • foster appreciation and gratitude for students' surroundings and resources. case studies
  • podcasts
  • articles
  • visual displays

Educative purpose  

Is the progression and development of disciplinary knowledge, understanding and skills underpinning health and physical education and how students will make meaning of and apply them in contemporary health and movement contexts. (ACARA) 

Every activity we do should have an educative purpose. What will your students learn as a result of this investment in time? How do you account for it? How do you report that, and what will you say to the young people you are working with? (Lambert & O’Connor). 

Educative purpose strategies for the classroom 

  • learning intentions and success criteria
  • a portfolio of work captures information and builds an evidence base to show what learning has occurred. It gives an educative focus and goes a long way to representing HPE teachers as professionals.

Health literacy

An individual’s ability to gain access to, understand and use health information and services in ways that promote and maintain health and wellbeing.  Health literacy is a personal and community asset to be developed, evaluated, enriched and communicated (ACARA). 

Health literacy develops a range of knowledge, skills and understandings that help us evaluate our life circumstances and the situations in which we find ourselves. It will help us negotiate services, materials and information (Lambert & O’Connor). 

Health Literacy for the classroom 
role plays 
case studies  

Valuing movement 

Movement competence and confidence is seen as an important personal and community asset to be developed, refined and valued.  It also provides challenges and opportunities for students to enhance a range of personal and social skills and behaviours that contribute to health and wellbeing (ACARA).  

Using sense-based and feeling-based activities to hear stories about what it feels like to move, even if they haven’t had those experiences themselves (Lambert & O’Connor). 

Valuing movement strategies for the classroom 

  • vignettes
  • case studies
  • short stories
  • plays



Lambert, Karen., and O’Connor, Justen. Monash University. 

Wright, Jan: Critical inquiry and problem-solving in physical education 2004. 

Bevin, Nadia., and Fane, Jennifer. (2017) Embedding a critical inquiry approach across the AC: HPE to support adolescent girls in participating in traditionally masculinised sport. Learning Communities, Special Issue: 2017 30th ACHPER International Conference, Number 21. 

Alison Wrench & Kathryn Paige (2019): Educating pre-service teachers: towards a critical inquiry workforce, Educational Action Research, DOI: 10.1080/09650792.2019.1593871