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Sport and early learning experiences

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This paper reviews evidence that suggests early learning experiences are crucial to continuing involvement in sport, but that currently only particular sections of the population are in a position to access quality experiences in schools and sports clubs. In particular, young people from lower social groups, girls and young disabled people in greater numbers miss out on quality early experiences compared to children from higher social groups, boys and the able-bodied.

Evidence is reviewed that suggests primary schools are by themselves unable to deliver quality early experiences, while specialist experiences in secondary schools come too late to impact a majority of children in relation to their competencies, perceptions and motivation.
It is also suggested that specialist secondary school programmes in their traditional form have had limited impact in terms of transferring knowledge learned in school to adult life.

A framework for thinking about youth sport experiences developed by Canadian Jean Côté and his colleagues is applied to the evidence presented here. It is proposed that Côté’s developmental model of sport socialisation supports interventions that involve quality early experiences for all children in the 5-14 age range through the integration of community and school resources, the establishment of multi-sports clubs in school sites, and the deployment of specialist teachers of physical education to work with the KS2 and KS3 age groups.



 editors comments   

Editor's comments - [  This is an academic review paper commissioned by Sport England as contextual analysis to inform the preparation of the Framework for sport in England and part of a series of desk studies called Driving up Participation: The Challenge for Sport.  ]  Reference this?Cryer, J. (Year). This page title in italics. Retrieved date, from <this page's full URL>

In the text: Cryer (year)


APA reference for this document


Reference : Kirk, D. (2004). Sport and early learning experiences. Loughborough: Institute of sport and leisure policy. Loughborough University

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Download this file (dupearly.pdf)dupearly.pdfKirk, D. (2004). Sport and early learning experiences. Loughborough: Institute of sport and leisure policy. Loughborough University
Last Updated on Tuesday, 17 March 2009 13:18  

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