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Key concepts in health education

Key concepts are the big ideas and understandings that we hope will remain with our students long after they have left school.

Interrelatedness of the health and physical education key concepts

The underlying and interacting concepts of the health and physical education learning area (hauora, the socio-ecological perspective, health promotion, and attitudes and values) underpin and shape teaching and learning in health education.

Determinants of health

The factors that influence achievement of well-being for self, others, and society can be called determinants of health (as described by the World Health Organization).

These economic, environmental, social, political, and cultural determinants of health and lifestyle choices work together. They may compound or mitigate the effects of the others. The 'determinants of health' is a concept through which understanding of the socio-ecological perspective is developed.


Resilience is the capacity to bounce back from adversity. Life events and change have an effect on well-being. Students develop resilience and learn how they can manage significant change in ways that support and enhance well-being. Building resilience involves addressing risk factors and developing or enhancing protective factors.

Social justice

Social justice involves investigating and promoting fairness, inclusiveness, and non-discriminatory practices. Students explore this concept in relation to its impact on the well-being of self, others, and society.

Critical thinking and action

Students learn to think critically in order to understand the factors that influence well-being, and to decide upon strategies that will help them to respond constructively in challenging situations.

Critical thinking enables students to challenge a range of personal and societal health-related perceptions, practices, and understandings.

Health promotion

Students learn about the contribution they can make to support the well-being of their communities and wider society. They learn about the power of individual or collective health-promoting action by, for example, lobbying local businesses to place more socially responsible and health enhancing billboard advertising near schools or presenting a case to the board of trustees to request the use of a school venue for youth-group meetings.

Students gain the skills to help manage their own well-being and the well-being of others. They put their learning into action as they make health enhancing choices, set goals, plan strategies, and take action.

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Last updated May 9, 2022