A SCHOOL that went a step further to enhance pupils' experience has been nominated for a Community Pride award.

Haxby Road Academy is up for the Primary School Project of the Year award , sponsored by Yorwaste, for their initiative of daily extra-curricular activities for all 9-11 year-old pupils.

The project, which began this academic year, extended the school day until 4.30pm for older pupils, with the aim of keeping them away from computer games and the TV.

Months into the scheme, teachers say it has seen pupils have gain a range of extra skills and learn about everything from cookery to movie-making to Spanish. Deputy head James Rourke said the free project coincided with extra-tutoring and support, and is part of an enrichment programme by the school which also includes partnerships with both the city's universities.

He said the school wanted to change the view that extra-curricular activities were only available to independent school pupils and provide the kids with experiences to enhance their education.

Using the government's pupil premium grant, they have been able to ensure that "no child, regardless of background, misses out on the opportunity to receive musical tuition, develop their sporting prowess or even learn how to cook a nutritious meal or delicious apple pie," Mr Rourke said.

He added: "I can always recall the the whole-school assembly in which the children were introduced to the new timetable structures of the day. Rows of Year 4, 5 and 6 children let out a muffled gasp as they were told that as from next year they would be staying at school until 4.30p.m."

But, he said, pupils were quick to get on board with the project.

"This initial reaction quickly moved however to one of enthusiasm and appreciation for how the school day was organised. The children now speak with utter enthusiasm and appreciation for the experiences which they are now taking part in and the impact of this new project has been widely praised by both staff and families."

He added that pupils have become a lot more engaged, with some making notable gains in their behaviour, while attendance figures have now risen above national averages. They have also received praise from parents, and in particular families who no longer need to pay for after school care.

The School Project of the Year category is one of 13 in the Community Pride awards, which are run by The Press and City of York Council and sponsored by Benenden Health.

The award is for any school project which has improved its surroundings or the environment in general. This can be an ongoing project.

For more information or to make a nomination, go to thepress.co.uk/pride

Nominations can also be posted to Paula Homer, PA to the editor, The Press, 76-86 Wa lmgate, York YO1 9YN before Friday, July 18, with details including a supporting statement of no more than two sides of A4 with each nomination. You may also include a picture, which unfortunately we will be unable to return.