SPORTS Minister Richard Caborn gave the thumbs-up to sports-minded schools which are tuned in to keeping their pupils fit and healthy.

Under the Places for Sports and Arts scheme, three primary schools in the Seaham area of County Durham have won funding to build new facilities to encourage children to take regular exercise and become involved in sporting activities.

It resulted in £700,000 of funding at Ropery Walk Primary School and £500,000 at both Deneside and Westlea Primary Schools.

Out-of-school hours, the facilities will be made available for community use to broaden the benefits.

In his recent visit to the region, during which he took part in the Great North Run, Mr Caborn called in at Ropery Walk School to try some of the new facilities.

He was given a tour, including a sports hall, art and design rooms and floodlit multi-use games area.

Mr Caborn was briefed on what sports will be on offer at the three schools by Abigail Brown, who is co-ordinating the project.

He spoke of the benefits to members of Easington Primary Care Trust, to teaching staff and to the pupils who will be using the new equipment.

Ms Brown's post will be funded for the next three years through a £60,000 grant from Sport England, to spread the word in the surrounding community about what is available.