HC Deb 14 February 2003 vol 400 cc166-7W
Mr. Greenway

To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills how many school playing fields disposals have(a) satisfied and (b) have not satisfied the criterion of a net gain for sport. [98114]

Mr. Miliband

Applications to dispose of school playing fields are assessed against three main criteria. These are:

(i) schools' needsthat playing field provision and curriculum requirements at the school making the disposal, and at other schools in the local area, will be met;

(ii) community needsthat community use of school playing fields is taken into account, with alternative facilities made available if necessary; and

(iii) financethat any sale proceeds are re-invested to provide new or improved sports facilities at schools, or are used otherwise to help raise standards by providing better educational facilities.

The criteria are set out in the Department's Guidance 0580/2001: The Protection of School Playing Fields and Land for City Academies. The School Playing Fields Advisory Panel provides independent advice on the extent to which applications meet the published criteria. Over the past four years the Secretary of State has approved 118 applications to dispose, or change the use, of an area of school playing field larger than a sports pitch (i.e. 2,000 m2). Of these, 48 were in respect of closed or closing schools and, of the remainder, 45 helped fund improved sports facilities at schools. No application has been approved that did not fully meet all of the criteria.

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