The Times is reporting that transparency data revealed by the government shows that one hundred and eighteen schools have been allowed to sell off playing fields in the past five years.
The paper has analysed the data, updated yesterday, to conclude that in contrast to the 118 that were allowed to sell off land, only 8 applications were not approved, although 6 more were initially rejected by the arbitration panel but these were overturned by the government.
The paper suggests that in many cases, land was sold because schools either merged or closed, but in others land was disposed of because it was seen either as surplus to requirements or not fit for use for sports.
It gives several examples of schools involved including:
- Netley Primary School in Camden, north London, where land was sold by the local authority to redevelop a neighbouring unit for vulnerable children.
- Maltings Academy in Essex where a hard play area was sold by Braintree district council, which planned to build a new sports centre building for use by the school and wider community.
- Compton academy in Barnet, north London, where the school leased playing fields to a private operator for use as a community sports facility that it could use during school hours.
The DfE is reported as stressing that proceeds from any such sales had to be reinvested in local sports provision. It is quoted:
“The government will only give permission if the sports and curriculum needs of the school and neighbouring schools can continue to be met.”
The paper goes on to contrast the sale of land with comments reported yesterday from Nick Gibb that schools will need to build upwards in order to expand and provide sufficient places in the future.
More at: More than 100 schools sell off playing fields (subscription may be required)
See the full list of disposals and the reaches behind them from the Education Funding Agency at: Decisions on the disposal of school land
In does seem somewhat ironic that land has been sold off and now we have no space left to build the required extra places.
That said, the detail behind the individual decisions does suggest most of them arose after school mergers, relocations or closures (although there is no indication of the net land lost or gained as a result).
Anything you would add on these disposals of land from schools?
Please share in the comments or via Twitter…
Don’t forget you can sign up to receive our daily email bulletin every morning (around 7 am) with all the latest schools news stories. Your details will never be given to anyone else and you can unsubscribe at any stage. Just follow this link