Gifted pupil development: Sports-oriented schools

In the context of profile building, school autonomy permits each school, to establish a physical education emphasis. This decision requires an increase, when compared with the norm for that type of school, in the physical education and allied subjects or projects offered.
From 1962 sports-oriented schools have been established in Austria for the specific development of the physically gifted. In these schools, particular attention has been paid that teaching staff show sports-oriented training beyond that required by the teaching diploma. Pupils are required to demonstrate their physical suitability in an aptitude test and to undergo medical examination.

Sports High Schools (general sports orientation)

Currently, 1998, there are in Austria 111 sports high schools. The principal characteristic of this type of school is an increase of 3-4 hours per week in physical education teaching time over that of a normal high school. In addition there are voluntary training sessions, increased participation in competitions and a greater number of school events (winter and summer sports weeks). The goal of sports high schools is the development of talented pupils.

Through varied training (basic motor skills, basic sport skills, leisure sports) the school creates on the one hand an introduction to competitive sport and on the other an ideal foundation for health promotion and a lifelong sports habit. Fundamentally any pupil who meets the necessary physical requirements and passes the aptitude test has access to a sports high school.

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Ski-sport oriented high schools (alpine and nordic)

Ski high schools were established for the specific development of competitive skiing. Building upon already acquired basic techniques technical skills specific to racing skiing are improved and thereby a transition is made possible to racing with one of the clubs of the Austrian Ski Federation. The greater demand in the domain of ski training requires a targeted development of basic motor skills (variety and increasing load). Concurrently and in direct accordance with sports practice students are given a fundamental knowledge of the doctrines of physical and technical training.

Since not all pupils make it to the competitive top there are other aspects of sport to open up e.g. later professional employment fields
(ski teacher, trainer). From year 5 to year 8 there are 12 hours of physical education per week including special fitness and ski training.

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Ski-oriented Middle and Upper Schools

Skiing is the only sport for which the Austrian school system provides special schools. State-certificated trainers look after the the pupils' sports education. Special classes are offered, above and beyond normal teaching, for pupils to catch up on academic work missed through training or competition.
The sport schools in Stams, Schladming and Waidhofen/Ybbs represent a special opportunity in the development of top level sport. Through special cooperation with the Austrian Ski Federation there is optimum coordination of admission to the competition squad, training courses and competitions. A significant characteristic of this type of school is the desire to give the young people a self-contained education but also to reach as high a level of sporting competition as possible.

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Sports Academy

This type of school is distinguished by a broad practical sports training (moderate sporting emphasis) with a tight interweaving of sports science.
There are 7-8 hours per week per class of physical education. In the context of an aptitude test, basic motor skills are checked. Introduction to youth competitions participation in sports federation competitions and an increased opportunity for voluntary sport are components of this education.

The new rules for the leaving examination and the new curriculum for sports science have brought with them a rise in the quality of school training: sports science as a compulsory subject in the leaving certificate. practical dissertation, team teaching interdisciplinary teaching.

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Schools for competitive athletes

Sixth Form College for competitive athletes: These experimental schools were established in order to open up the possibility for young performance athletes to sit a leaving examination. The organisational framework makes it possible to do justice simultaneously to intensive training and school work. This demands tight cooperation between training requirements for out-of-school sports and school work. Training is organised and financed by training centres and/or the appropriate sport federation. Class times are determined by training requirements. Individual athletes' enforced absences resulting from training, competition and training camps can be made up with the support classes and learning packages on offer. The theory of sports science is a compulsory subject and part of the examination.

The requirements for admission to a school for competitive athletes consist of sports qualification (actual or near elite athlete status in the sport concerned, prospects of international success) academic requirements (school reports and additional learning capacity) and a positive medical report.

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