Secondary school health education: An analysis of the underlying processes
Health education is the setting where the majority of teaching and learning about health takes place in New Zealand secondary schools. This subject is incorporated within the learning area of Health and Physical Education, which is founded upon a socio-critical approach and is compulsory to Year 10. The 2007 New Zealand Curriculum guides teaching and learning within New Zealand schools and has established a strategic framework that focuses on student competencies, the local context, and meeting the diverse learning needs of students. Available health education research offers insights into the national curriculum, the challenges of implementing the learning area of Health and Physical Education, teachers’ professionalism and the influence of the school environment. This qualitative study aimed to investigate health education in New Zealand secondary schools. Eight health education teachers, purposefully selected from secondary schools in New Zealand, participated in semi-structured interviews. Thematic analysis, grounded by a dual theoretical approach using social realism and Bernstein’s theory of education systems, generated seven main themes located within three thematic levels: wider school community relations, teaching as inquiry, and classroom delivery. Themes in the first level reflected the marginalisation of health education and health education teachers’ relationships with parents, caregivers, and external agencies. The second level highlighted the reflexive role of health education teachers in establishing a student-centred health education. The last level reflected a contextual orientation to teaching practices, classroom health education content, and student assessment. This thesis provides evidence of some of the teaching and knowledge processes underpinning health education in New Zealand secondary schools. It highlights teachers’ passion and investment in this subject, despite the challenges that arise. Understanding the experiences of health education teachers builds on the best-practice evidence base of school health education. This evidence base is vital in supporting health education to reach a level of subject maturity, establishing its value and need within New Zealand secondary schools.
Advisor: Egan, Richard; Morrison, Catherine
Degree Name: Master of Public Health
Degree Discipline: Preventive and Social Medicine
Publisher: University of Otago
Keywords: health education; teachers; school; New Zealand
Research Type: Thesis