An evaluation of school responses to the introduction of the Queensland 1999 health and physical education (HPE) syllabus and policy documents in three Brisbane Catholic primary schools.
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Within Brisbane Catholic Education (BCE) the 1999 HPE syllabus was implemented between 1999 and 2001. The purpose of the study is to evaluate the implementation of the 1999 Queensland HPE syllabus in three BCE primary schools of varying enrolment numbers. The research problem is: ‘How developed is the implementation of the new HPE syllabus in BCE schools?’ The data collection was guided by the following research questions:- • How are teachers in these BCE schools implementing the HPE curriculum documents? • What readily accessible resources do schools have to assist with the implementation of Health and Physical Education? • What are teachers’ perceptions with regard to the HPE Key Learning Area? • What are the children’s perceptions of the HPE Key Learning Area? • What implementation strategies are required to optimize HPE practices in BCE schools? This study is significant for the feedback it may provide to BCE of the HPE syllabus implementation process and in informing BCE of the current status of the HPE key learning area within a sample of systemic Catholic primary schools. The findings have the potential to contribute to the BCE Strategic Renewal Framework currently occurring within BCE schools for all curriculum areas and planned for completion by the end of 2006. This research has been designed within a constructionist paradigm. An interpretivist study was conducted employing symbolic interactionism. This qualitative, interpretive study is most appropriate as meanings were constructed. The case study methodology was chosen to construct meaning through capturing the context of each school. The sites for the three case studies involved: one small sized BCE primary school (less than 200 students); one medium sized BCE primary school (200 - 400 students); and one large sized BCE primary school (over 400 students). The participants included teachers and students from the respective schools. The data gathering strategies used were; semi-structured and focus group interviews, reflective journal note taking, observations, questionnaire and document analysis. The research concluded that factors which led to the decline in Australian HPE during the 1980s and early 1990s may have contributed to impeding the implementation challenges formulated by BCE. This was evidenced within the three BCE primary schools by unequal allocation of teaching resources, equipment, facilities, HPE teachers and HPE teacher release time for sports coordination. It appears that the implementation process ceased prematurely before all schools had had sufficient time and preparation to design whole school HPE programs. Teachers lacked understandings of practical ways to implement the social justice underpinnings of the syllabus and some school principals were unaware of the necessity of employing qualified HPE specialist teachers. The research revealed that school principals play a significant role in the implementation of the 1999 HPE syllabus, a role made more imperative by the absence of BCE HPE Curriculum Officers and systemic HPE professional development. Therefore, the HPE key learning area requires further system level support and attention so that the 1999 HPE syllabus can be implemented successfully in all BCE primary schools, enabling curriculum change to occur.
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