Call over rules for school sports

Ministers are facing calls to reinstate rules over the minimum outdoor space schools must provide for team games.

The Government has come under fire for dropping the requirement, which said that English secondary schools must offer pitches of a certain size, depending on their pupil numbers.

Shadow education secretary Stephen Twigg said he was calling for a parliamentary vote to demand that this minimum space requirement is restored.

Labour will table a motion when Parliament returns in September to allow MPs to debate the changes, he said.

Mr Twigg accused Education Secretary Michael Gove of trying to "sneak out these changes while Parliament is in recess, so MPs do not have a chance to debate them".

"Labour will bring forward a motion when Parliament does return so that these changes can be scrutinised by elected representatives," he said.

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

The Department for Education (DfE) has confirmed that the requirement for English secondary schools to provide pitches ranging from 5,000 sq metres to 54,000 sq metres, depending on the number of pupils, has been dropped.

Instead, under new regulations laid in Parliament last month, schools will now simply have to provide "suitable outdoor space" for PE and for pupils to play outside.

The DfE said that removing "pages and pages" of bureaucratic regulations would make it easier and cheaper to provide the extra places for pupils the country needs. A spokesman said: "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. By removing pages and pages of bureaucratic restrictions we will make it easier and cheaper to provide the extra school places that this country needs so urgently."