Everyone must have some contact with the subject
There is a variety of educational options which are designed to meet the needs and interests of children and their parents. Full-time schools complement conventional education and schools even provide for leisure education at reduced rates for children of lower social classes.
Compulsory „Physical Exercise“
Account of the importance of physical activity in physical, cognitive, emotional and social respects to the development of young people is taken in the provision of compulsory „physical exercise“ (physical education) in all types of school with the exception of professional schools in the dual system.
Austrian elementary schools operate with class teachers. This means that „physical exercise“ is taught for the whole class, boys and girls together, by the primary school teacher. This allows the possibility of flexible programming of the prescribed physical activity time guided by the aim of offering the children daily exercise. The subject is marked and in the first years there is the possibility of an additional verbal report.
Secondary School Years I and II
From year 5 Physical Education is taught by subject teachers and is basically segregated by sex. It is however possible to organise combined sports teaching sessions for boys and girls together (see Chapter on Coeducation). When it makes sense so to do the teaching can also extend over classes and even years. Further there is the possibility of allowing both boys and girls a choice spread over the year. The subject is graded.
In some types of school (e.g. residential vocational Schools) physical education is offered as an optional subject. If such a course takes place, those students who have opted for it must attend and will be graded.
Many can take part in sport as well.
Quite different optional activities (e.g. volleyball) serve to deepen, supplement or broaden the teaching content of compulsory physical education courses. Since the academic year 1994/95 schools have been called upon to establish as a matter of prime importance optional activities for pupils with motor deficiencies. Participation is voluntary. Pupils who opt for the course must take part but are not graded.
Professionally linked training
In kindergarten and social welfare teacher training establishments the compulsory subject is called physical education because the profession-specific training - the imparting of the professional fundamentals required for the organisation of exercise for children - has a special significance.
The new school-leaving examination regulations provide for the inclusion of physical education as a subject i.e. the combination of physical education and rhythmic and musical education in the form of a project as an optional element of the oral school-leaving examination.
Theoretical subjects in specialist schools
The theoretical subject of Sport Science typifies compulsory subjects and is an obligatory part of the school-leaving examination in general upper schools particularly in respect of the sports training for competitive sports pupils in secondary level II and in the upper levels of junior high schools. The aim of this theory-led subject is to develop an in-depth, critical understanding from both scientific and pupil angles of the cultural phenomenon of sport. Pupils have to acquire sports scientific knowledge in exemplary form and be able to apply it practically.
Particular characteristics of sports science are topic-centered development of learning aims, linking to actual circumstances and interdisciplinary teaching methods. Amongst the variations it is possible to choose a dissertation (private study on a topic from the syllabus of one or two subjects) a written paper and/or an oral examination.
For the broadening and deepening of Sports Science it is also possible to offer it as an elective subject which should involve elementary scientific methods e.g. questionnaire, experimentation, specific observation, solution strategy.
Elective subject: „Theory of Sports and Exercise Culture"
At present throughout Austria attempts are being made to offer physical education and sport topics within school leaving examinations. With the introduction of a school initiative in the shape of the theoretical elective subject those pupils who are interested in sport and health have the opportunity of sitting a school-leaving examination combining sport with other supporting subjects e.g. biology, philosophy, physics.