top of page

How to communicate in Health and Physical Education

Disciplinary literacy in HPE and PDHPE

Disciplinary literacy in Health and Physical Education means communicating about health and wellbeing, as well as reading and understanding information about health. Most importantly, it's about interpreting information and using health information to promote health, personally and with others.

In Health and Physical Education, students 'need critical inquiry skills to research and analyse knowledge and to understand the influences on their own and others’ health, safety, wellbeing and physical activity participation’ (ACARA HPE curriculum).

Literacy is essential for Health and Physical Education. We can explore the disciplinary literacies of HPE, and it’s plural – literacies – for a reason.

Literacies of Health and Physical Education

HPE has multimodal literacies, which means that health experts communicate using:

· written language

· spoken language

· numbers and statistics

· data displays

· diagrams

· models, and more.

All of these are part of disciplinary literacies of HPE.

Today, we will cover one of disciplinary literacies of HPE which is:

What kind of genres are needed in Health and Physical Education?

As we covered in a previous post, genres are purposes for writing in subject area. Genres have patterns of meaning that can be explicitly taught to our students, so that they can communicate like a subject expert. Not all the subjects use all of the genres, so the choice of genres in a subject area form part of the disciplinary literacies of that subject.

What are the Top 3 Genres of Health and Physical Education?

The main genres are:

1. descriptive reports

2. explanations

3. persuasive texts

There are many other kinds of genres that students in school are asked to do, but the three above are the main ones.

1. Descriptive report

HPE students are expected to read and write information about many different aspects of health and wellbeing. They have to summarise and synthesise information and express it in a formal and objective way. For example, they describe features of healthy relationships, types of bullying and discrimination and they outline features of nutritious diets.

2. Explanations

Explanations are very important. There are many types of explanations, looking at causes, consequences, sequences and systems. Some examples are:

  • Explain the effects of drugs

  • Explain body systems

  • Explain the influences on body image

  • Explain the impacts of risk taking behaviour

3. Persuasive texts

HPE students have to be persuasive and evaluate information, coming to a position where they make recommendations. Some examples are:

  • Evaluate the effectiveness of a health strategy in the community

  • Recommend healthy lifestyle behaviours

  • Outline the benefits of and argue for a particular inclusion strategy

Each of these genres has different stages, different phases and uses different patterns of language features. These are what teachers need to teach explicitly to students, to help them all write like an expert. We will explore these genres further in future posts.

There are many fantastic resources exploring genres of writing like an expert in HPE – see the list below for recommended ones.

Follow up

· In a faculty meeting, look at your assessment program for a year level and identify the genres that you are asking students to do. Discuss where students tend to struggle the most. Focus on this area for next term. Collaborate with your peers to write some model texts (examples) related to the topic and assessment tasks that are coming up. See the post on scaffolding writing for more info.

· Within the faculty, divide teachers up between the three most important genres (descriptive report, explanations, persuasive texts). Colleagues can investigate the resources below and report back to the group at the next faculty meeting, sharing some relevant literacy teaching strategies they have found.

References and readings

ACARA (2021). Health and Physical Education Curriculum. Rationale. Available at:

Derewianka, B., & Jones, P. (2016). Teaching Language in Context. 2nd Edition. London: Oxford.

Weekes, T. (2007-2021). Literacy Works for Health and Physical Education and PDHPE

To cite this post, please reference:

Weekes, T. (2021, October 10). How to communicate in Health and Physical Education. Available from:


bottom of page