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Monday, 9 July, 2001, 07:41 GMT 08:41 UK
Has your school lost its playing fields?

Children at a UK primary school are having to practise for their local sports day in the middle of a public road.

The playground at Curledge Street Primary School in Paignton, Devon, has had classrooms built on it, which means there is nowhere big enough to run the 100 metres sprint or to set out hurdles, and the school cannot afford to pay to use local playing fields.

The government claims it has ended the loss of school playing fields, but the National Playing Fields Association claims that a large proportion of applications are still approved.

It says schools are having to sell them to raise money or use them to build new classrooms.

What is your experience? Have you lost your school playing field? Has it affected your education?

This debate is now closed. Read a selection of your comments below.

Your reaction

With more of today's parents wary of letting their young children play freely outside, school fields and playgrounds are the only form of exercise some children get. I think it's a great shame that schools are put in the position that they have to raise money by selling off one of the greatest assets they have. I work in a secondary school and at break and lunchtime the majority of children will head out to the field, luckily attached to the school. They run around or play football with friends and generally let off steam. I doubt that these activities would be quite so appealing in the confined, small schoolyard.
Megan M. Thomas, West Wales, UK

I just can't wait every week for the physical fitness class

Chan Shio Fong, Singapore
Definitely not! My school has not lost its playing fields. Though my primary school is not a prestigious one(a neighbourhood one) we have a middle-sized field just behind our school. Though it's not big, I just can't wait every week for the physical fitness class. Though my school does not have a court for tennis or badminton, our teacher will book a court every week just for us to have fun. Sport is an important activity for all especially in Primary level. It not only builds the children's interest but gradually increases the level of interest in their favourite sport. It also improves their confidence & mental ability.
Chan Shio Fong, Singapore

I am a pensioner who lives near a school. Most of the children that used the playing fields out of school time were little thugs, involved in vandalism and petty crime. The fields have been sold and houses built - some very nice families have moved in, including some refugees - and the whole neighbourhood has improved.
Gordon, UK

I grew up in Hong Kong where the only place to go for sports and PE was the concrete playground in which 1000 students would congregate every break. There was barely enough space for anything. I went to the UK for a term when my grandparents were dying and experienced such a different lifestyle when it came not only to sports but also to outdoor life. Sportsmen in HK aren't the best and it's not about it being a small place and not enough people, HK out populates Wales and Scotland, North Ireland and the Republic of Ireland (albeit not altogether!) and yet when you look at it they have many more quality sport teams and personalities. It isn't lack of funding either because HK isn't a poor city at all and rumour has it that the HK rugby association is one of the richest per capita. The lack of places to practise is a major contribution to a floundering programme. The space simply gives the option for a higher calibre.
Nathan, Hong Kong

The pressure on schools to ignore sports and recreation is increasing all the time

J Black, UK
I agree with Peter, if you want to do sport then go ahead, if you don't have the choice to do a vocational or academic subject. However with league tables the pressure on schools to ignore sports and recreation is increasing all the time. I know of a school which had talented sports stars - ironically tennis was their biggest success - and the school would not support them to go through to the county championships and subsequently the students lost all interest in sport and gave up totally. Just think, one of them could have been at Wimbledon this year! So please look after the resources for those who want to do sport - which can be non-competitive also.
J Black, UK

As a child, I attended infant, junior and secondary schools that had no playing fields, and only a small square of rough, sloping concrete to play upon. We still managed to play rounders, 5-a-side football, netball, and other games. At secondary school the playing field was a 10-minute walk away, across 2 busy roads and down the town's main shopping street. As a result, most PE was taken either in the gym/assembly hall or in the concreted playground. The trick is to make the most of what you've got. This builds self-reliance and self-esteem in staff and pupils alike, and prepares them better for the challenges of life ahead.
Jessica Tatterson, UK

Most school playing fields are wasted space

The loss of a playing field would not have affected my education one iota. Sport is, in my opinion, something you should be encouraged to try and allowed to do if you're inclined. I got nothing out of sport at school and hated every minute of it - I could have spent the time on something infinitely more useful. Most school playing fields are wasted space. If kids are into sport they will always find time and space for it and it's not as if there aren't clubs and other bodies external to schools which can cater for their needs. Why can't schools concentrate on teaching kids what they need to know in the big bad world outside of school? Prowess in sport isn't going to get them productive jobs!!

I went to a private school with gorgeous and historic grounds in Somerset, which we happily shared with the local comprehensive for free. However, returning there last weekend I found that the land had been appropriated by the council to build a bypass. Now, my old school has further grounds outside the town, and the means to get its pupils there, but the comprehensive is now reduced to using a rather nasty concrete area.
Charles, UK

In my studying time at primary school, there was limited space for sports and play. There was also lack of facilities. But nowadays, schools are big enough. They have their own playground and have good facilities such as computer room and library etc. They have a better study environment than that I had.
Man, Hong Kong

Young people need to learn maths, English and IT skills to get on in life. They also need to learn how to look after their bodies

Peter, UK
Young people need to learn maths, English and IT skills to get on in life. They also need to learn how to look after their bodies. But this can be achieved in lots of different ways, many of which are non-competitive and do not inflict humiliation on children. There is no more need to practice competitive sports than there is to learn basket-weaving. The attitude that playing more soccer/rugby/ hockey/cricket or whatever will do children good and be character forming should have been buried with conscription and cold showers. If they want to do it - fine, if they don't, don't force them.
Peter, UK

Schools in the Cardiff area have had to sell off land to raise money.
It has always struck me as strange why the general public can not hire out gym, field equipment at night, weekends to raise funds for schools.
Phil Daw, UK

This is an absolute disgrace. No swimming, no field sports. Just burgers and chips and a quick fag!
Jason, England

My old school sold off a large chunk of land for houses to be built on it. Now the school playing fields are 2 miles away - a bit too far to go for a game of footy at lunch time!
Dominic, UK

It's funny, I thought battery hens were looked upon badly in society

Craig Barber, England
I am in sixth form, and now that we got 2 new structures, it has left our school yard withering and our field slowly decreasing in size. It's funny, I thought battery hens were looked upon badly in society, yet do teachers not realise that kids are being locked up too, and with little space to relax anymore?
Craig Barber, England,

In my school there isn't a really big playing field, but for the 1000 metres, we just run around the school a couple of times. If we are really stuck, we hire a playing field!
Claire, England

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