Schools: Recreation Spaces

Department for Education written question – answered on 17th January 2023.

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Photo of Christopher Pincher Christopher Pincher Conservative, Tamworth

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, if she will make an assessment of the adequacy of access to school (a) playgrounds, (b) playing fields and (c) play areas for children with disabilities; and what steps she is taking to increase that access.

Photo of Claire Coutinho Claire Coutinho The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Education

The department does not collect information on the adequacy of access to school playgrounds, school playing fields, or school play areas for children with disabilities. The department has published area guidelines for schools in Building Bulletin 103, and specific guidance for special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) schools and alternative provision (AP) sites in Building Bulletin 104. These documents include guidance and expectations around size, type, and design of outdoor PE space, informal and social areas, and the use of habitat areas.

Schools must also comply with their duties under the Equality Act 2010. This includes making reasonable adjustments and carrying out accessibility planning for disabled pupils. Schools must prepare and implement accessibility plans, which should include plans for improving the physical environment of schools to enable disabled pupils to take better advantage of education, benefits, facilities, and services provided. Ofsted may review a school’s accessibility plan as part of school inspections.

In March 2022, the department announced High Needs Provision Capital Allocations (HNPCA) amounting to over £1.4 billion of new investment. This funding is to support local authorities to deliver new places for the 2023/24 and 2024/25 academic years, and to improve the suitability and accessibility of existing provision for children and young people with SEND or who require AP.

It is ultimately up to local authorities to determine how to best prioritise their funding to address their local priorities, including improving the accessibility of school play areas. Local authorities can work with any school in their local area to do so.

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