A SECONDARY school rated by Ofsted as ‘outstanding’ has unveiled building plans which it hopes will encourage more sixth-formers to continue playing sport.

Carmel College has submitted proposals to Darlington Borough Council to renovate a Victorian stable block and build extensions to create a sixth form suite and gym facilities, while removing some eyesore stuctures from the site at The Headlands.

The school said the stable block and sports hall were constructed pre-1900 and in around 1960, respectively, and require significant refurbishment and improvement.

The move follows a national study finding sport participation levels at age 14 are 80 per cent for boys and 70 per cent for girls, but once they reach 18 participation dropped to 60 per cent for boys and 40 per cent for girls.

In response, the government launched a strategy which focused on the needs of individuals and communities.

Documents lodged with the council by the 1,315-pupil academy-run school, state the aim of the work is to “provide better sports facilities including, changing, and toilets to encourage sixth form sporting participation and provide an updated facility that can reinvigorate that part of the college”.

A key factor in the proposed design has been to enhance and uplift the stable building which is used for gymnastics and to strengthen the current sixth form facilities “to encourage retention of existing pupils”. The school said it also wanted to find better uses for underutilised spaces and resolve accessibility issues around buildings.

A school spokesman said: “There are spatial pressures within the college, to accommodate their current sixth form pupils and current fitness suite is in much need of improvement. The new element will accommodate existing pupils and staff.”

Under the proposals, the first floor of the stable block would be brought into use as a large open space that can function as a fitness studio, next to a fitness suite and a new sixth form lounge. If approved, there will be viewing windows into the sports hall from the fitness suite and 6th Form Lounge.

The sixth form lounge would feature a large glazed area, “creating a dynamic contemporary element which reconnects with the wider college campus, and that has its own presence on the site”, a school spokesman said, adding: “This will also have the benefit of overlooking the new landscaped courtyard where the cycle storage used to sit, creating a more vibrant usable external space”.

The planning documents state the hire of the facilities will continue for local clubs and organisations.

Since 2007, the school, which was named a computing hub for the National Centre for Computing Education last year, has undergone a major modernisation programme, including a £10.5m building project which included teaching blocks and improved sixth-form and gym facilities.