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Sponsorship deal gives Thorpe pupils a sporting chance

PUBLISHED: 20:17 28 June 2010 | UPDATED: 17:36 01 July 2010

Steve Downes

Hundreds of students at an edge-of-Norwich high school have had their away sports fixtures saved - thanks to a ground-breaking sponsorship deal with a house-building firm.

Hundreds of students at an edge-of-Norwich high school have had their away sports fixtures saved - thanks to a ground-breaking sponsorship deal with a house-building firm.

Norfolk Homes is stumping up £500 per year for three years to help Thorpe St Andrew School, on Laundry Lane, to continue to take part in scores of matches against rival schools. The money is being used to pay a trained minibus driver to ferry the youngsters around, after health and safety legislation threatened to make it too expensive.

Without the money, the school faced a choice between calling off some fixtures or asking students to pay match fees.

Ian Clayton, headteacher at the 1,678-pupil sports specialist college, said: “In the past, schools used to be able to put aside one PE teacher, who would get 15 students into a minibus and drive to a match. Health and safety has put paid to that. Now we have to have a driver and another adult. And the driver must have the minibus qualification, which is difficult for some of our younger teachers to get. As a sports college, we transport our students all over the place for fixtures, so this was becoming a problem.”

Mr Clayton said the school had tried grouping a number of teams in a large coach to transport them, but it was “not sustainable”.

He added: “The danger was that we would have to go back to charging match fees to pay for a qualified driver for the away fixtures. That is wrong, because it should be down to whether you are good enough - not whether you can afford to pay.”

Mr Clayton said the Norfolk Homes deal - which included the company having advertising banners put up at the school's all-weather pitch, which is used by scores of adult teams outside school hours - had enabled the school to employ a minibus driver for the away matches. A PE teacher or coach would travel with each team as the additional adult, who is compulsory because of legislation, he said.

Do you have a schools story? Call Steve Downes on 01603 772495 or email steve.downes@archant.co.uk

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