Councils to sell hundreds of acres of school playing field land

The TES is reporting that councils are planning on selling hundreds of acres of land, which is used as school playing fields.

The amount of school playing field land earmarked for sell-off has increased dramatically to a seven-year high, a TES investigation reveals.

Information from 65 local authorities shows that they sought permission to sell or transfer 160 acres of school playing fields last year – more than double the amount set aside the previous year.

This is the most playing field land marked for sell-off in a single year during the seven years for which data is available.

Almost half of the land was in three local authority areas – Knowsley, Kent and Barnsley – all of which have higher than average levels of overweight and obese children of Reception age.

The TES investigation also shows that school playing-field sales since 2010 – including those for which Department for Education approval was not required – have already raised more than £100 million for the 65 councils that responded to TES Freedom of Information requests.

The same authorities asked the DfE for permission to dispose of 684 acres of school playing field land – equal to 456 professional football pitches – the analysis reveals.

Tim Gill, a former director of the Children’s Play Council who advised David Cameron on childhood when he was leader of the opposition, said: “Despite promises from successive governments, hundreds of acres of playing fields are being sold off, leaving children deprived of space for sport and play.”

More at: Exclusive: Councils to sell hundreds of acres of school playing field land

Let us know your thoughts in the comments below or via Twitter. ~ Meena

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  1. As short-sighted as it seems to sell off school land, now more than ever, I also have to point out that the great majority of primary schools don’t use their playing fields as much as they might, or should.

    Most UK schools will only use around 20% of their available land holding during playtimes, prefering to crowd children onto a small, empty hard-surfaced area for staff convenience. Once that happens, the needs of pupils become less of a priority than the needs of staff and soon after this happens the playground squabbles, head-bumps and after-playtime classroom arguments will become commonplace!
    The solution to these problems is obvious, isn’t it?

    Also, most schools will only allow children access to their fields for play on less than 20% of days in the school year. Play on grass is usually only allowed during summer term when the ground is dry, and possibly also during a small part of autumn term. Once the rains come, that’s usually the end of it for the year.
    The most common excuses I hear for not sending pupils onto the field are 1) “it’s too muddy, and 2) “we don’t have enough supervision”. Neither is an acceptable reason because children can easily wear wellies and coats when it’s muddy, and skilled, trained playtime staff can easily cope with acres and acres of fields, once they’ve organised themselves properly.

    If schools really valued their fields surely they would make full use throughout the year of all that they have? Poor management policy is often the true cause of underuse, because if a Headteacher doesn’t know a) how many of the children are active and engaged in play (rarely will it be more than 50% of pupils) for the maximum available time, or b) why their staff are not allowing access to the full site every day, then they are hardly in a position to argue a strong case for keeping their playing fields, are they?

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