Physical education, youth sport and lifelong participation: the importance of early learning experiences

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288 Citations (Scopus)


The PESSCLS strategy for physical education and youth sport in England has received an unprecedented level of funding from the Blair government during its term in office. In this article, it is proposed that there are structural problems with the delivery of physical education and school sport in England that the PESSCLS strategy and associated policies such as Game Plan may not have accounted for. It is argued these problems become evident through a review of research on the importance of early learning experiences for lifelong participation in physical activity. In addition, the impact of perceptions of competency on young people's motivation to participate is discussed, prior to exploring the influence of gender, socio-economic status and sociodemographic factors on participation. Further evidence is reviewed that suggests secondary school physical education programmes have in their traditional form been ineffective in promoting lifelong physical activities. The article concludes with the identification of some alternatives to the traditional approach to PE and youth sport that could enrich some of the PESSCLS initiatives.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)239-255
Number of pages17
JournalEuropean Physical Education Review
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2005


  • physical education
  • early learning experiences
  • educational reform
  • lifelong participation
  • youth sport


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