STAFF at Samuel Laycock hailed the impact of Chance to Shine after the Tameside school gained Silver Standard honours in the Sainsbury's School Games Kitemark scheme.

Samuel Laycock PE coordinator Ernie Greenwood said the school was 'delighted' to be recognised by the Government-led scheme, which rewards schools for their commitment to competition across their school and into the community.

And he reserved special praise for the Cheshire Cricket Board coaches who have delivered the Chance to Shine programme to their pupils for the last three years.

Ernie said: "Cheshire Cricket plays a big part in developing the sport at this school.

"We have been involved in the Chance to Shine scheme which not only entitles us to some coaching and teacher training, but also gives our pupils access to the Kwik Cricket festival hosted by the County Board at Warrington CC.

"As a special educational needs school we value the time our pupils spend participating in sport, and we were delighted to receive our Silver Standard Award recently."

He added: "The Chance to Shine programme has really engaged the pupils, but it has also helped the staff with ideas for games and practices.

"We also ran a successful after school club for an hour a week last summer, and this encouraged two pupils to attend community sessions at nearby Hyde Cricket Club last June."

Cheshire Cricket Board Development and Coaching Officer Gareth Moorhouse, who delivers to clubs and schools across Tameside, said he was looking forward to visiting Samuel Laycock again in 2014.

He said: "I have always had a fantastic welcome from the staff at Samuel Laycock, and from Ernie in particular, who is extremely passionate about providing quality coaching opportunities for his pupils.

"The impact of Chance to Shine is clear for all to see, with more pupils involved in playing the sport both inside and outside the school gates.

"From a personal perspective, I have learned a lot about working with children with learning disabilities and the teachers there have developed their coaching skills under my guidance. It has been a mutually rewarding relationship that I hope continues into the future." Samuel Laycock were one of 196 schools to receive free coaching from the Cheshire Cricket Board in 2012/13, 63 of which had not previously been engaged by the Chance to Shine programme.

The Board employed three new staff members to deliver the expanding secondary school project throughout Cheshire, all of whom who have been retained for the current academic year.

CCB Participation Manager Gavin Colebourn explained: "There has been a shift in focus in the Chance to Shine programme over the past 12 months, with more emphasis placed on recruiting and retaining players of secondary school age, and in particular those aged 14 and above.

"Cricket is one of many sports tasked with keeping a tight grip on this age group, who for various reasons are playing less sport than they were a few years ago.

"We know there is a passion for cricket given the huge numbers we have delivered to in primary school settings, so there is definitely a strong foundation for us to build on.

"The challenge now is to balance this ongoing need to introduce young players to the game with keeping hold of those we already have, or indeed enticing those who may have lapsed to re-engage.

"The secondary school project exceeded all expectations in Cheshire last year, with schools playing more matches than ever before and hundreds of pupils taking Cricket Young Leader's qualifications.

Gavin added: "We are now starting to see the benefits of this, and we hope the 2013/14 programme will be equally effective in Cheshire with cricket placed right at the forefront of the sporting agenda."