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The effect of maturation on children's experience of physical education: Lessons learned from academy sport

Towlson, Christopher; Cumming, Sean; Donnan, Kate; Toner, John


Sean Cumming

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Dr Kate Donnan
Lecturer in Sport and Exercise Psychology

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Dr John Toner
Lecturer in Sports Coaching and Performance


Students’ experiences of physical education (PE) are considered important for lifelong attitudes toward physical activity. Sex-related differences, and the individualised tempo in anthropometric growth because of biological maturation, leads to secondary school students within chronological age-ordered classes possessing vast differences in anthropometric and physical characteristics, which may negatively impact the PE experience for late- or early-maturing children. Therefore, the purpose of this review was to (i) critically discuss the influence of maturation on developmental factors related to PE and (ii) provide key stakeholders with guidance on how to manage this period of development more effectively and proposed solutions to alleviate the confounding influence of biological maturity currently being implemented within sporting contexts. Secondary school children of different maturation status are often categorised using arbitrary, chronological aged-ordered bandings, resulting in groups of children exhibiting large within-group variations in physical, behavioural, emotional, and educational development. This heterogeneity may lead to sub-optimal learning environments, which are confounded by complex and often negative developmental consequences for children who are at either extreme (late- and early-maturing) of the maturation continuum. This is particularly important within PE, where engagement, enjoyment and resultant lifelong physical activity attitudes are influenced by perceived competence and relatedness, and where these needs may be thwarted because of considerable maturity-related variations. This paper posits that it is time to for key stakeholders within child education to explore new ways to supplement current teaching practices and consider occasionally grouping children by maturation status (i.e. bio-banding) within secondary school PE to enhance students’ experiences.


Towlson, C., Cumming, S., Donnan, K., & Toner, J. (2024). The effect of maturation on children's experience of physical education: Lessons learned from academy sport. European Physical Education Review,

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Apr 15, 2024
Online Publication Date Jun 2, 2024
Publication Date Jun 2, 2024
Deposit Date Jun 7, 2024
Publicly Available Date Jun 11, 2024
Journal European Physical Education Review
Print ISSN 1356-336X
Electronic ISSN 1741-2749
Publisher SAGE Publications
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Keywords Maturity; Physical education; Adolescence; Psychosocial; Physical; Anthropometrical
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Accepted manuscript (496 Kb)

Copyright Statement
Towlson, C., Cumming, S., Donnan, K., & Toner, J., The effect of maturation on children’s experience of physical education: Lessons learned from academy sport, European Physical Education Review (Journal Volume Number and Issue Number) pp. xx-xx. Copyright © 2024 The Author(s). DOI:

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