More than 1,000 Scottish schools lack outdoor sports pitches

More than 1,000 Scottish schools '“ including 8 per cent of secondaries '“ have no outdoor sports facilities, it has emerged.

Figures from SportScotland, the national agency for sport, show 40 per cent of schools are without any kind of outdoor provision.

Scottish Labour said the figures reflected SNP cuts to local authority budgets, but the Scottish Government said that £168 million had been invested in sports facilities over the past ten years.

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According to correspondence between SportScotland and Labour, 1,040 Scottish schools have no outdoor sports facilities, including 43 per cent of primaries, eight per cent of secondaries and 77 per cent of schools for those with additional support needs.

Labour said SportScotland had cut investment in school sport by £1.3m last year, down from £14.9m in 2014-15 to £13.6m in 2015-16.

The party’s education spokesman, Daniel Johnson MSP, said: “Having access to outdoor sports facilities isn’t just about finding the next Andy Murray, it’s about cutting the attainment gap with healthier children more likely to do well in the classroom.

“We also know that Scotland has made almost no progress in tackling childhood obesity in the last ten years. Access to outdoor sports facilities should be part of the solution.

“These figures show that the SNP government hasn’t been giving our schools the investment they need to deliver investment in the estate. The SNP should reverse the ten years of cuts it has made to Scotland’s schools.”

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The Scottish Government said it was investing in a range of areas to encourage healthy lifestyles, including £149m in free school meals for all primary 1 to 3 children and £11.6m to support schools to meet manifesto commitments on PE. It has also made a commitment to roll out the Daily Mile initiative, which encourages schoolchildren to run for a mile each day.

Sports minister Aileen Campbell said: “Ninety-eight per cent of primary and secondary schools across Scotland are now providing at least two hours or two periods of PE a week. That is a key part of our sport strategy for children and young people.

“Since 2007, SportScotland has invested £168m to support councils, sports governing bodies and other organisations delivering a wide range of new and upgraded sports facilities.

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“We have now exceeded our target of delivering 150 community sport hubs across all local authorities by 2016, with 50 per cent based in schools. To date, a total of 157 community sport hubs are in place. SportScotland has also announced a further £6m investment to create a total of 200 hubs by 2020.”

She added: “We have made a commitment for Scotland to become the first Daily Mile nation with roll out to nurseries, schools, colleges, universities and workplaces across the country.

“Every school will be offered help to become a Daily Mile school and over 800 primary schools have already started their own programme.”