Give our children their school playing field

Give our children their school playing field

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Silsoe Lower School PTA started this petition to Sue Harrison (Director of Children's Services, Central Bedfordshire Council)

Please support Silsoe VC Lower School as we continue to chase Central Bedfordshire Council regarding the continued delay in delivering the school its playing field. 

Silsoe VC Lower School moved to its new location on Chestnut Avenue in January 2017, and whilst knowing the playing field and its boundaries were still under dispute and there being no definite timeline agreed for its delivery to the school, there was however, a certain expectation that we would have use of the field by the end of that academic year.

Recognising there was no provision within the school budget for outdoor play equipment at the new school, the PTA were specifically tasked with raising funds to provide this equipment. They have been working tirelessly over the last 2+ years, with parents willingly contributing towards this fundraising. Yet increasingly, due to the numerous obstacles that still prevent the delivery of our playing field, a substantial number of children have since left the school without ever benefiting from their parents’ donations. The situation is completely unacceptable, as it is diminishing the hard work of the PTA and parents are becoming frustrated and less inclined to support the fund-raising activities when they cannot see any return on their contributions.

Silsoe VC Lower School prides itself not just on academic learning,  but on the whole learning experience it affords pupils, with one such area of learning being Forest School. The ethos of Forest School is to encourage learning that takes place in a woodland or natural environment; to support the development of a relationship between the learner and the natural world. Sadly, the Forest School experience at Silsoe VC Lower School has been diminished due to the non-existence of a school field. Despite every effort our Forest School leader makes to maximise the limited resources she has, the lack of school field continues to challenge this area of learning and lessen the children’s experience.

More and more emphasis is placed on increased social, emotional and mental health and wellness through regular physical activity. The Youth Sports Trust and Association for Physical Education recommend that all children and young people aged 5 to 18 engage in at least 60 minutes of physical activity per day, of which 30 minutes should be in school.

However, the lack of playing field prevents the school from being able to offer a full range of sporting activities. Whilst the school is incredibly creative in utilising the space and resources available to them to ensure the children experience a variety of outdoor activities and sports, sadly there are still several disciplines that our children cannot participate in, and the additional means and time it takes for staff to plan alternative activities is not sustainable.

Furthermore, Silsoe VC Lower School has a highly successful school Football Club with the annual club tournament being a key date not just in Silsoe’s calendar, but for several club’s in the surrounding villages. Yet absurdly, the club must pay to use football pitches at Wrest Park because this fundamental incapability to deliver the playing field, which even has football pitches marked out, leaves the club unable to play ‘at home’.

We have spoken about the impact this non-delivery is having on the school and its children, but it is also essential to note the impact it has on the wider school community. For the last two years we have been unable to hold an annual all-school sports day, because there is quite simply not enough space! Sports Day has been a tradition of our school for many, many years, and it is sad to think that many of our children, their families and our wider school community have not been able to experience this.

Let’s consider the outdoor facilities we do have. Our playground is not built or equipped to cope with the number of children who need to use it. Temporary solutions such as staggering break times does not alleviate the problem, and the playground is still often crowded. Incredibly, CBC are currently paying for the school to use the neighbouring Sports Centre’s MUGA to create more space; an on-going cost which is both unnecessary and unwarranted when we have a designated outdoor space for the school to use, for free.

Whatever the legal wrangling may be that continues to impede the delivery of the school field, it is quite frankly ridiculous that it continues to deprive our children of the outdoor space they should have to play on.

We want a response to confirm the current status of the school field, and a timeline detailing when the field will be completed, made safe and handed over to the school in time for the summer term.

Please sign this petition to show your support.

Thank you

 

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