safeguards to strengthen further the protection of school playing
fields. A school playing fields advisory panel will underpin tougher
guidance published today by the department for education and skills.
The new measures comprise:
* a new, key role for sports bodies on the advisory panel
* disposal only to be allowed if the sports and curriculum needs
of schools and their neighbouring schools continue to be met
* community use of school playing fields to be considered in
* any sale proceeds to be re-invested in sports
Catherine Ashton said:
'We have already reversed the indiscriminate disposal and change of
use of school playing fields which caused widespread concern in the
past. We are now putting in place even more stringent controls to
support the development and improvement of sporting provision for the
benefit of schools and their local communities.
'The secretary of state will only allow the disposal of sports and
playing fields when they are genuinely surplus to school requirements
and when the remaining facilities still meet the needs of the
community. Where necessary alternative permanent venues and
facilities will have to be made available and all proceeds from any
sales will have to be ploughed back into sports provision or
'The introduction of these stronger measures is a clear sign of our
intention to continue to protect school playing fields where they are
needed by schools and communities. The new panel will support this by
offering independent, professional advice on whether applications to
dispose of school playing fields meet our strict criteria.
'Schools need the right sport and recreation facilities to meet the
expectations of today's pupils. However, we must balance the
protection that we give to school playing fields and sports pitches
with the recognition that some may actually be surplus. We shall
always make sure that any plans result in better facilities that meet
not only needs now but also the future needs of schools and their
This Press Notice applies to England.
1. 'The Protection of School Playing Fields and Land for City
Academies', published today, replaces Circular 3/99 'The Protection
of School Playing Fields'. The guidance sets out the criteria against
which decisions normally will be made on applications from local
authorities and governing bodies to sell, lease, or change the use
of, schools playing fields.
2. The membership of the school playing fields advisory panel brings
together leading sports bodies - National Playing Fields Association,
Central Council of Physical Recreation and Learning through
Landscapes - as well as representatives of headteachers and local
3. The panel's terms of reference are included in the guidance and
its views and advice will contribute directly to the decision-making
4. The guidance also describes the criteria that must be met before
local education authorities may dispose of land that may be needed at
a future date for a city academy.
5. The guidance is available as a down-loadable Word document from
the publications section of the DfES website.
Hard copies are available from DfES Publications on 0845 6022260.