Not playing fair!
The euphoria occasioned by the golden performances of the Team GB Olympic athletes is starting to subside a little, hastened by news that the Government is making it easier for schools to sell off playing fields.
Regulations on the amount of space required for playing fields according to pupil numbers are being replaced by the rather vague notion that there must be ‘suitable outdoor space’, with the intention of smoothing the way for schools to expand places.
The DfE might insist that ‘extremely strict rules’ are still in place, but many interested parties are not convinced. Under the last Conservative government, 10,000 playing fields were sold off.
This move follows the coalition scrapping the target for schools to provide every pupil with at least two hours of PE a week, and the reduction of funding for the schools sports partnerships.
These partnerships of primary and secondary schools and sports organisations were judged by many, including Ofsted, to have had a highly beneficial effect on participation and achievement in sport and PE. And yet, they have been effectively scrapped on the spurious grounds that schools should have a much greater focus on competitive sport.
The result of all this seems likely to be fewer facilities and less participation. Of course it is important for children to be able to take part in competitive sport, but an inclusive approach also needs opportunities for exercise such as dance and yoga.
And is there a warning note for the early years sector here – will deregulation mean that young children at nursery have even less of a right to outdoor play in the future?