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Outdoor space at centre of latest school sports row

16/08/2012 Joanna
Although the Olympics galvanised the nation, ever since the closing ceremony brought the Games to an end a debate has been raging furiously about how those in education jobs can best approach teaching sport.

The latest controversy surrounds the provision of outdoor space for the teaching of physical education, after the government decided to replace specific size requirements in favour of a more general "suitable space" directive.

Currently, depending on a school's size, its outdoor space for sports has to be a certain number of square metres in area. However, the new amendment will make this obligation redundant from the end of October.

Stephen Twigg, Labour's shadow education secretary, vowed to contest the decision when parliament returns after its summer break.

"It's not too late for the government to change its mind and restore the minimum space requirement for outdoor space and school playing fields," he said.

"We need to ensure there is no salami slicing of school playing fields."

And Tim Lamb, the chief executive of the Sport and Recreation Alliance, told the Guardian that without specific sizing requirements, there was a danger that more outdoor spaces could be sold off.

"The previous requirements were one of the key tools for preventing the sale of land," he explained. "The danger is that short-term expediency could jeopardise the ability of schools to deliver sport for future generations."

However, the Department for Education denied that the rule change would have an adverse affect on the role of those in sports teacher jobs.

"These regulations set out for the first time that all schools must have access to suitable outdoor space for both formal PE lessons and for outdoor play," a spokesman said.

"Our extremely strict rules on playing fields will stay firmly in place."

With parliament in recess, the issue will not be concluded before the start of the new school year.  

Posted by Charlotte MichaelsADNFCR-2164-ID-801430737-ADNFCR
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