Growing schools losing playgrounds


A survey of 82 of England's councils by the Times Educational Supplement suggests that 335 of the 957 expanding primaries could end up with less space to play in as new classrooms swallow up fields and playgrounds.

According to the survey, more pupils will use the same area in 54% of these schools. The TES calculated that if the figures were extrapolated to the whole of England, it would mean 213,750 children would have less space per head in their schools.

Last year, a study by the National Audit Office (NAO) warned that by September 2014 an estimated extra 256,000 primary and secondary school places would be needed to meet demand. Of these, 240,000 are required in primary schools, with more than a third needed in London alone.

The Department for Education has made about £5bn available to councils to create new school places, and 212,000 new primary places were created between May 2010 and May last year.

The investigation found that of the 957 expanding primaries it received information about, around 335 are losing outdoor space and a further 520 are not losing space, but will have more pupils in the same area.

This would mean, based on an average primary school size of 250 youngsters, that there would be less space per child for 213,750 existing pupils, the TES calculated.

The figures also show that 102 schools are gaining space.

A DfE spokesman said: " We have brought in new regulations to make it harder for councils and schools to build new classrooms on their playing fields.

"They must apply directly to us for permission and our rules make clear that this should only be a last resort where there is a pressing need for new school places. We consider each case on its merits and permission will only be given if councils and schools satisfy us that suitable space is available so children can still play outside."

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