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Top notch despite loss of top soil

A secondary modern school is hoping to become the first in the country to be awarded a "Sportsmark" as part of the Prime Minister's Raising the Game initiative announced last year The Sportsmark scheme, which is to be launched in May or June with backing from John Major, is designed to boost sports in schools. To gain the award, schools must be able to offer a minimum of two hours of PE per week in lesson time, plus at least four hours of sport at lunchtime, after school or at weekends.

Lostock high school in Stretford, Trafford, has been building up a reputation for high standards in sport over the past six years. It was chosen to take part in a Sports Council project called "Sport's Cool" which co-ordinator Barbara Wilson says shares many aims of the Government scheme.

Close to the home of Manchester United and Michael Atherton's Lancashire Cricket Club the school has built up links with experts in sports including athletics, gymnastics, basketball, netball and jujitsu.

Ironically and inconveniently one of Lostock's two sports pitches has been condemned as unsafe by the area's health and safety executive because of dangerous pot-holes caused by the loss of top soil.

Headteacher Edward Smallridge has put in a bid for National Lottery cash to pay for a new pitch.

Lostock is an 11-16 secondary modern which struggles in a borough which still selects students at 11. Two-thirds of the pupils are boys as the school competes with a nearby all-girls' high.

The school also has to deal with social problems in one of the borough's poorest areas. Mr Smallridge said: "We have a long way to go to meet the national attainment targets."

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