FIT comments on the school playing fields sell off

Charity warns of looming threat from academies to sporting future

It is a cause for concern when school playing fields – and other outdoor recreational spaces –are sold off for a quick financial fix that then jeopardises Britain’s longer-term sporting success and the health and enjoyment of people of all ages.

But behind these figures lies a worrying, greater, threat. The figures obtained that reveal the number of school playing fields where permission has been given for disposal by the Secretary of State for Education do at least give some certainty (although it should be added that some of the permissions given may be for improvements to sports provision).
Academies, and the new Free Schools, on the other hand, have been exempted from the Department for Education’s regulations that govern other mainstream schools’ freedom to sell off their playing fields:  there could, therefore, be an unknown number of other sports pitches that have been lost without our knowing.

The problem is compounded because not only have many new academies been created, but also because the number is growing, with the addition of established schools which are accorded Academy status. This could have serious implications for our sporting legacy: without making all schools subject to the regulations, will the people of Great Britain be able to look back in another 100 years and enjoy the same success in the Olympic Games that we are currently witnessing? It looks unlikely as things stand – sportsmen young and older can do great things, but only if they have somewhere on which to discover and develop their potential.


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