§ Mr. Bercow
To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills how many school playing fields have been sold in each of the last 10 years. 547W
§ Mr. Miliband
There are no central records of how many school playing fields were sold before October 1998. Section 77 of the School Standards and Framework Act 1998 was introduced on 1 October 1998 to stop the indiscriminate sale of school playing fields that occurred in the 1980s and early to mid 1990s.
Applications to sell school playing fields are only approved where it is clear that any proceedswill be used to improve school sports provision or education facilities. All applications made since 16 July 2001 are scrutinised by the School Playing Fields Advisory Panel to make sure that they meet our published criteria. The panel comprises representatives from the National Playing Fields Association, the Central Council of Physical Recreation, Learning through Landscapes, the National Association of Headteachers and the Local Government Association.
The table shows the number of applications to sell school playing fields larger than a small sports pitch for the under 10s, that is larger than 2,000 m2, that were approved in each year since October 1998. In 27 of these applications new or replacement sports pitches of the same size or greater were to be bought from the proceeds. A further 45 applications involved land at closed or closing school sites and in 37 of the remaining 56 cases, the proceeds are to be used to improve sports faculties, such as new all-weather pitches, sports halls or improved grass sports pitches. In the remaining 19 cases, the proceeds are to provide better education facilities at schools, such as new classrooms and performing arts facilities.
Calendar year Sports pitch applications approved October-December 1998 7 1999 42 2000 32 2001 22 2002 23
1. The table includes applications to sell school playing fields from local authorities, foundation, voluntary and former grant-maintained schools.
2. All sale proceeds are used to provide new or improved sports or education facilities at maintained schools.
3. 'Sports pitch' means an area of open grassed land which is equal to, or larger than, the Football Association's recommended 2,000 m2 area for games played by under 10s and which has a configuration making it suitable for sports, whether laid out as a sports pitch or not.