ACT EDUCATOR MAGAZINE
HOW CAN WE FOSTER GIRLS' PARTICIPATION IN SPORT? Katie Slater - Primary School Teacher
he benefits of participat- Sport and physical activity can ing in sport and physical activity are well docu-
increase the capacity for learning, promote physical and mental health, and introduce skills such as teamwork, self-discipline, leadership and socialisation. Education Departments around Australia have developed policies to support and guide schools with the implementation of physical education. The ACT Education Directorate’s Physical Education and Sport policy states that all students from kindergarten to year 10 must have “mandatory times to be devoted within curriculum time to the area of physical education and sport.”
Katie Slater is a primary school teacher, elite athlete and recipient of the 2017 Anna Stewart Scholarship.
AEU ACT BRANCH
Despite physical education being mandatory within all ACT schools, evidence shows that there is a significant drop in engagement and participation levels of female students within secondary schools.
The age that women are dropping out of physical activity and sport outside of school is also getting lower (ABS, 2003), with recent evidence suggesting there is a 50% drop off for young women aged 10-14 years (Craike, M., Symons, C., & Zimmermann, J., 2009). A number of barriers contribute to this drop off. They include low confidence levels, the perception of a lack of skills in comparison to peers, body image, higher levels of social and peer pressure, and physical exercise becoming a lower priority (Victorian Health Promotion Foundation, 2015). My experiences of physical education in schooling were quite unique. I was home-schooled until the age of 16, so by the time I attended Dickson College my perceptions of physical education and sport had not changed a great deal from when I was