A SCHOOL has received the UK's top honour for its inclusive approach to sport.

Ovingham Middle School has received the platinum award as part of the Government's School Games Mark programme.

The platinum award is only handed to schools which have received the scheme's gold mark for five consecutive years, and Ovingham's head of PE Deborah Goodwin is delighted with the recognition.

"We are very proud," said Mrs Goodwin, "because it shows that what we are doing is being acknowledged as a good thing for our pupils."

Sport is not just restricted to PE lessons at Ovingham Middle, it's an everyday occurrence.

Pupils have the opportunity to join a wide range of lunchtime clubs, offering the chance to take part in gymnastics, football, netball, rugby, athletics and tennis.

If that's not enough, the school also offers less mainstream sports such as dodgeball and handball, and other means of physical exercise, including dance classes.

Mrs Goodwin said Ovingham pupils can also learn golf, thanks to the school's exciting link-up with Close House Golf Club near Heddon-on-the-Wall.

She added: "It's just about every sport you can think of that we cover. We want to make sport as inclusive as possible. For example, there is rugby for girls as well as boys.

"Everyone is welcome to join in. If you like a particular sport, and want to get involved, there is an opportunity to play, enjoy it, and develop your skills."

Ovingham has teams which take part in school competitions, but winning is only one part of a bigger picture.

"If pupils want to be competitive they can be," said Mrs Goodwin. "Our golf coaching links in to competitions at Close House, and we have teams in different sports competing at national level.

"But it's not about picking a team and leaving out everyone else. Our approach is all about involving everyone, so they can enjoy the benefits of physical activity."

The school also runs a successful sport leaders scheme, which encourages older pupils to help staff run sessions, and have a go at being a referee or umpire for small-sided team games.

Mrs Goodwin has a long-term affinity with the school. Herself a former a pupil, she has now worked at Ovingham Middle for the past 15 years.

"We've won this award which is great, but we will continue to strive for improvement," she added.

School games officer for Tynedale, Damien Dimmick, said: "To receive the platinum award, a school really has to be excellent in terms of what they offer and deliver. Ovingham is one of the best PE schools in the land."

NOTE: Kate pics already taken but not yet in Knowledge.