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Selling or changing the use of school playing fields guidance
Prior written consent of the Secretary of State for Education is required to dispose of, or change the use of, land used by maintained schools and academies, including playing field land. The Department for Education has reissued guidance on the protection of school playing fields and schools’ power to protect land to clarify the criteria on applying for consent for the disposal of land or a change to its use.
The 2015 Advice on Standards for School Premises confirms that all maintained schools and academies must provide outdoor space to enable physical education in accordance with the school curriculum and to enable pupils to play outside. It creates a very strong presumption against the disposal of school playing field land.
Purpose of the document
This advice is non-statutory and sets out the main circumstances in which local authorities, academy trusts, governing bodies and diocesan bodies need to obtain prior consent of the Secretary of State to dispose of, or change the use of, land used by maintained schools and academies.
It also describes how the Secretary of State will assess applications for such consent.
The advice document has been revised to clarify the criteria on applying for consent for the disposal of land or a change to its use.
Criteria used to assess playing field applications
The Secretary of State will consider the overall benefit of the disposal against expected gains, to pupils and existing community users. The criteria used to make this decision include:
- the school’s needs
- curriculum needs
- other schools’ needs
- community use
- reinvestment of proceeds in sport and education facilities
- value for money
Changes of use of playing field
Consent of the Secretary of State is required for a change of use of playing field land, whether for another education purpose or a non-educational purpose.
General Consent Orders apply to some situations on land owned by the local authority. If the conditions set out in the Order are met, the local authority will be able to notify the Education Funding Authority.
For advice on matters relating to Schools, please contact Duncan Morter on 01904 624185.