SCHOOLS from across Central Fife have been congratulated after achieving prestigious national sports accolades during this academic year.

St Patrick's Primary School, in Lochgelly, Crossgates Primary School and Beath High School have been praised by sportscotland after they each won a gold school sport award.

The national, lottery-funded initiative is designed to encourage schools to continuously improve physical education and sport, put young people at the forefront of decision making and planning of school sport and physical education, and increase opportunities for pupils to take part.

The award, of which there are three levels, bronze, silver and gold, also encourages sporting links between schools and the communities around them, providing opportunities for young people to progress.

Schools must meet rigorous criteria when applying for an award, which for gold includes having an established sport committee led by pupils; deliver two hours per week of PE to every primary pupil; help a minimum of 40 per cent of the school roll to participate in extra curricular sport; and have regular – a minimum of three sessions attended per pupil – extra-curricular sport on offer to pupils in all year groups.

In addition to showing excellent practice across eight core areas, schools are required to submit evidence for each as an independent panel of experts carry out an extensive assessment before gold status is awarded.

St Patrick's, Crossgates and Beath are three of seven schools across Fife to have earned gold this year, while a further three local primaries – Kelty, Foulford and Hill of Beath – achieved the silver accolade.

A record number of 673 schools across the country hold a school sport award and Stewart Harris, sportscotland chief executive, said: "Congratulations to staff and pupils across Fife who are putting sport and physical education right at the heart of their school and local community. They should be proud of this fantastic achievement.

"Along with our partners, sportscotland is committed to building a world-class sporting system for everyone, and a crucial part of that is putting young people at the centre of our efforts. Working with local authorities and governing bodies of sport, we are creating closer links between physical education, school sport and club sport, which benefits young people by providing more and better opportunities to take part in sport.

"It's great to be able to recognise more schools than we ever have before, it shows that pupils, staff and parents across the country see the undoubted value in having sport as a crucial part of school life."

Fay Sinclair, Fife Council's Education and Children's Services Committee convenor, added: "This is great news for Fife, demonstrating our commitment to building our young people's competence and confidence in sport.

"Well done to all the staff and pupils involved in this tremendous achievement."

The awards are supported by the Active Schools Network, a programme that involves sportscotland working in partnership with all 32 local authorities to encourage schools to ensure there are opportunities for all children and young people to engage, participate and reach their potential in this area.