I WAS delighted to welcome progress this week as the Government announced that it would be investing £415 million to transform school facilities and encourage healthier lifestyles.

This news follows the campaign I initiated in January when I held a debate in Parliament on the best ways to spend the monies that will be raised by the forthcoming Soft Drinks Industry Levy, better known as the Sugar Tax, on sport in schools.

Following the debate, Ministers from the Department for Education (DfE) took on board all of the suggestions for serious consideration. On Monday, the DfE announced that they would incorporate these ideas and invest £415 million in facilities to support sports, after-school activities and promoting healthy eating, in order to secure the future health of our young people.

This is brilliant news and I am really glad to see that schools are becoming more involved in trying to make sure that children get a healthy start in life from exercise and sport, and also from knowing what a healthy diet means.

It’s not only good for them while they’re in education, but the health and well-being benefits can last a lifetime.

The fund will be called the Healthy Pupils Capital Programme and will look to build on the Government’s plans for schools to provide a longer school day by changing the focus of the scheme to provide new facilities or improve existing ones to make it easier for a range of extra-curricular activities to be provided.

This is exactly what I called for when I highlighted the huge success of local teacher Mark Draycott who has established Draycott’s Sports Camp at Oakhurst Primary School, providing after-school clubs and summer holiday clubs, which are hugely popular with children and parents.

Money will be available to schools in the 2018/19 financial year and more details on how the fund will be distributed will be published later this year.

Alongside the funding for the PE and Sport Premium, Breakfast Clubs and Universal Infant Free School Meals, it represents over £1.3 billion investment in 2018/19 to help young people live healthier lifestyles. This is absolutely brilliant and I am exceptionally pleased to have played a small part in ensuring the sugar tax money goes directly to schools in order to provide activities.

I would also like to thank Mark Draycott for his inspiring sports camp which is a really excellent example of how we can be getting more kids active.

I’m also pleased to see that Mark is launching his Football Academy this Saturday at the Supermarine Swindon, the excellent new facility based at the Webbswood Stadium.

So if you know of a keen youngster who wants develop their technical ability and understanding of the game, then do email info@draycottfootballacademy.com.

Finally, I wanted to say a big well done to Nova Hreod headteacher Darren Barton, his teaching team and governors, the parents, and of course the pupils, as they celebrate the school’s Good Ofsted rating, which is the first in their history.

I have often written about the fantastic transformation which has taken place at the school and this was why I invited the Schools Minister to visit earlier this year.

The remarkable achievements have now been formally recognised by Ofsted and everyone at the school can be very proud indeed.