This paper shares a university health and wellbeing community initiative. The project (2011-2014) ‘Best Start: A community collaborative approach to lifelong health and wellness’, adopts a strengths-based approach to education. What began as a partnership seed between a university and nearby schools, quickly grew to involve Australian Registered Training Organisations (RTO), the local health industry (local leisure and sports centre), Education departments and sport governing bodies. The collaborations involved pre-service teachers teaching Health and Physical Education (HPE) lessons to children from local schools, thus marrying theory with practice. The apparent pre-service teacher benefit was extended learning opportunities, as lessons provided ‘hands on’ practical, experiential learning and teaching. Lessons also provided local primary school children with quality swimming, sport sessions and tennis coaching (at no cost). Furthermore, professional development was delivered for classroom teachers. Various communities were involved in curriculum and pedagogical research and reform. The project creatively optimised the resources available within a regional community through connections with the wider state of Victoria, as well as Australian and international communities. Program planning was strengthened through international research with data gathered from an England and Wales Office for Standards in Education (Ofsted) awarded UK Primary Physical Education course case study (2012 and 2014). International partnerships enabled identification of unique contextual opportunities, support networks and renewed purpose. This initiative offers new directions of research and discovery in local and global education and is significant to the European Conference in Education (ECE) 2015 theme of “Education, power and empowerment: Changing and challenging communities”.
Timothy Joseph Lynch, Monash University, Australia
Stream: Higher education
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