TEACHERS have been reminded to think about how they encourage every child to be active before applying for recognition from a national awards scheme.

Three quarters of schools in mid Cheshire received a School Games Mark during the previous academic year, an indication that a commitment to creating opportunities for boys and girls to participate and compete against each other remains healthy.

An average across the country was 41 per cent.

"We're optimistic of a similarly high uptake this time around," said Chris Story, development manager for Vale Royal School Sport Partnership.

"The challenge for us remains to support schools in continuing to develop their offer to make sure all of their students are catered for.

"That usually means a programme that is broad and measures achievement in different ways.

"It's not simply looking at who finishes first; a personal best can excite and engage a child in a powerful way."

The School Games Mark is a government-led scheme, introduced seven years ago, that assesses the provision of PE and sport in schools according to four criteria.

They are participation and engagement, competition inside school and against neighbouring ones, voluntary opportunities for students to be mentors or leaders to younger peers and whether the school has forged links or relationships with clubs based nearby.

The evidence they submit is used to decide whether they have reached bronze, silver or gold status.

A platinum category has also been introduced to acknowledge sustained excellence in consecutive years.

Three schools - St Nicholas RC High, Charles Darwin Community Primary and Hartford Primary - made that level in 2017-2018.

Story said: "It's a journey and none of us has reached the destination yet.

"The challenge has always been to change hearts and minds away from a purely competitive focus to one that matches better to the ability, confidence and motivation of the children at your school.

"Each school in the partnership is at a different stage on that pathway."

Grange Community Nursery and Primary School, on Brindley Avenue in Winsford, received a gold award last year.

Principal Annette Williams told the Guardian working alongside a PE and school sport co-ordinator had been transformational.

She added: "Ensuring children are fit and active is crucial to underpin all that we do here.

"The pupils have had numerous opportunities to take part in competitive sport alongside those from nearby schools, which is something that wouldn't have happened without the partnership's support.

"Our staff have benefitted too from training they've had which has allowed them to deliver high-quality PE sessions for every child."

Sara Albiston, head of school, said that a School Games Mark is an accolade to be proud of.

She has noticed an impact on children in other ways too.

"They have a more positive attitude towards school life and they've shown increased resilience over time.

"Their self-belief is greater thanks to the chances they've had."