VETERAN physical education teacher Phil Moriarty wants to see mandatory fitness testing introduced to Australian schools to help kids build healthy, life-long exercise habits at an early age.
A teacher of more than 30 years, Mr Moriarty recently took long service leave from Winthrop Primary School to spend eight weeks in California, which has already implemented compulsory fitness testing for Year 5, 7 and 9 students.
“Primary schools in WA have 120 minutes allocated to fitness each week but we don’t have any formal testing procedures to track how we are going,” he said.
“My sister is the principal of a school in Los Angeles and so I was able to go over there and see how they approach mandatory fitness testing.”
Armed with that knowledge, Mr Moriarty returned to Perth and trialled a California-style testing regime with Year 5 students at East Fremantle Primary School in term one.
“The fitness testing includes looking at endurance, upper body strength, abdominal strength, flexibility and body fat,” Mr Moriarty said.
“Each student was attempting to be placed in what is described as a healthy fitness zone for each component.”
Part of the testing is a 1.6km run, which in California must be completed faster the higher a student’s body mass index.
“It’s a great incentive for children to lose weight and research in California has shown obesity levels have levelled off from Years 5 to 10 because of these tests,” Mr Moriarty said.
Mr Moriarty hopes to win State and Federal government backing for mandatory testing, which he envisages running alongside NAPLAN for Year 5, 7 and 9 students.