Increasing the Implementation of a Mandatory Physical Activity Policy in NSW Primary Schools Across Three NSW Jurisdictions (PACE)

Status: Project complete


What is the problem?

Schools across Australia, and internationally, are introducing physical activity policies in an effort to reduce childhood obesity. 

These policies are based on clear evidence demonstrating the relationship between physical activity and health outcome indicators, including chronic disease.

Despite the often mandatory nature of these policies, less than 20% of Australian schools are meeting their objectives.

Greater engagement from schools and more effective implementation of physical activity policies is expected to improve health outcomes for children. 

However, there is little research measuring the effectiveness of any interventions designed to support schools in providing the requisite amount of physical activity.

About the research translation project

Prior to the project, the research team developed a multi-component implementation model to support primary school teachers to increase physical activity over the school week. 

The model included the following strategies to overcome resource and expertise barriers, as well as provide ongoing support:

    • Access to a support officer working directly with the schools; 
    • Identification and support of school champions;
    • A training workshop for the in-school champions; and
    • Tools and resources for in-school champions and classroom teachers.

The model was piloted and the efficacy, feasibility and acceptability of the model were demonstrated.

This project scaled up the support model to approximately 100 public and Catholic primary schools in the Hunter New England, Mid North Coast and Central Coast Local Health Districts.

What were the findings?

The findings of the project demonstrate that the PACE program, when scaled up, is highly feasible, acceptable and implementable.

It successfully supports teachers in increasing their scheduling of physical activity in line with current policy requirements.

Given the success of the project, the model has now become the new service delivery model provided by the HNE Local Health District.

The researchers are now preparing to further extend and improve this program. This will include reducing associated costs and resources, which may impede implementation in other schools.

Read the final report

Evaluation of efforts to scale-up delivery of the Physically Active Children in Education (PACE) intervention across three regions in NSW: Evaluation Report


For more information, contact Dr Nicole Nathan –