MORE young people are taking part in organised sporting activities in schools across North Ayrshire.

The Active Schools team – who provide a range of activities across the area – have prioritised and shaped their work towards a more inclusive, accessible and proactive programme resulting in more pupils engaged and involved in sport and physical activity.

And this year they reached new heights with stats showing that more pupils are getting involved in the sessions co-ordinated by the team.

During the last academic year (2018-19) the number of sessions – across a range of sports and activities – delivered by Active Schools was up by nearly 40 per cent.

In those 10,360 sessions, 48 per cent of the total school pupils across North Ayrshire took part – an increase of five per cent over the previous 12 months and 12 per cent greater than the year before.

Two primary schools, St Peter’s and Blacklands, had a 100 per cent participation rate this year.

Kilwinning Academy was also the first mainland secondary school to get over 50 per cent of their pupils participating - and is now one of the most active secondary schools in Scotland

Active Schools teams are also assessed on participation sessions – the number of pupils taking part in a block of organised activities – and there has been a 35 per cent increase in the last 12 months with girls accounting for 46 per cent of those taking part.

Leading the Active Schools team is Leanne Hillan-Fowler and she is thrilled at the ever-increasing participation levels amongst North Ayrshire’s young people.

She said: “We now have a full team of nine that work across all of North Ayrshire secondary schools and their cluster primary schools.

“We’ve worked really hard to introduce individual school delivery plans to identify spread of activity as well as any gaps in provision.

“We’ve also developed a career professional development calendar for teachers which has increased our pool of volunteers, while the introduction of a primary and secondary events calendar has resulted in an increase of extra-curricular activity sessions.

“It is really reassuring to see that participation levels are up and more and more people are engaged with what we are trying to do.

“Being healthy and active is a priority for our schools and we play an important part in delivering that.”

An increase in the numbers taking part in the year-long North Ayrshire Sports Academy (NASA) from 30 in year 2017/18 to 50 in year 2018/19 has resulted in more extra-curricular clubs being run.

Leanne added: “NASA has proved really successful this year and has provided an opportunity for over 50 young people across North Ayrshire to become qualified leaders in sport

“The course provides training and mentoring opportunities with qualifications and awards delivered by approved tutors as well as the Active School Team.

“NASA enables participants to boost their CV and gain valuable experience as well as developing life skills such as confidence, communication, leadership and time management. They’ve also been a great help in supporting us to deliver more and more sessions to the young people.”