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- Education Professionals
Selling of school playing fields hitting school sport
Figures released by the Department for Education show that the sale of school sports fields continues even though ministers declared in the coalition agreement they would "seek to protect school playing fields".
Don Earley, deputy chief executive of Fields in Trust, a charity that safeguards recreational spaces, said: "It is key that we endeavour to protect all outdoor recreational facilities, and are aware of the threats to them."
A DfE spokesman said ministers would only sanction the sale of school playing fields if the sports needs of schools can continue to be met. The spokesman said: "Sale proceeds must be used to improve sports or education facilities and any new sports facilities must be sustainable for at least 10 years."
The sale of schools' open land comes on top of cuts to school sport that have hit the level of competition between schools. Funding for school sports partnerships – groups of schools which work together to improve the quality and range of sport on offer to children – has been drastically cut by the coalition.
A series of FoI requests by Labour has revealed that 28 councils no longer have any school sports partnerships. In each partnership, a secondary school PE teacher was given two days a week to act as a co-ordinator while a teacher in each of the primary schools was paid to receive extra training in PE and sport.
The effect of the cuts has been to reduce the time and resources available to organise competitive sport – despite the fact that ministers regard boosting competition as the cornerstone of their sports policy.