§ Phil Sawford
To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what her Department's policy is on the sale of school playing fields. 
§ Mr. Ivan Lewis
The Department has a presumption against the need to change the current pattern of playing field provision at schools. We are committed to funding schools and local education authorities so they are no longer forced to sell school playing fields to pay for school repairs. We have provided over £7 billion over the last five years for capital investment in schools and are making £6.5 billion available over the next two years for investment in school buildings.
Before October 1998, there was nothing to prevent a local authority selling a school playing field if it wanted to. To protect school playing fields from such indiscriminate disposal, we introduced legislation on 1 October 1998 that requires local authorities to obtain the Secretary of State's consent before they can dispose, or change the use, of any school playing field or any part of a school playing field that has been used by schools in the last ten years.
Applications to dispose, or change the use, of school playing fields are assessed against the following criteria:a. Schools' needs: that playing field provision and curriculum requirements at the school making the disposal, and at other schools in the local area, will be met;