SPORTING youngsters will be in the class of their own after the unveiling of Bury Grammar's new artificial pitch.

The first phase of the school's sports development programme was was officially opened by the Mayor of Bury, Cllr Mike Connolly, and includes a FIFA-standard 3G playing surface and neighbouring multi-games area.

The second phase will include an upgrade and refurbishment of the current sports hall and a new pavilion at Buckley Wells playing fields.

Bury Grammar headteacher Richard Marshall said: “This is possibly the biggest sports development to happen in Bury for a very long time. The investment, not only in Bury Grammar School pupils, but also for the wider community is testament to our commitment to increasing sports participation and excellence.

"Alongside our recent academic exam successes — the best GCSC and A-level results for a generation — this development puts us, and Bury, at the forefront of educational excellence. I am proud to be part of these exciting times for Bury Grammar School.”

Director of sport Simon Williams said: “Whereas before we would lose considerable time in getting to the grass pitches at Buckley Wells, we are now straight on site on the school campus and a one-hour 10-minute lesson means one hour of uninterrupted sport, even if it rains!

"This development will change the perception of sport both locally and in our school and it is personally a joy to work on.”

Head of development Alison Holland said the choice of supplier was paramount.

“Green Fields is one of the leading sports surface suppliers in Europe and has installed the same surface at many top professional clubs including Arsenal, PSV Eindhoven, Celtic and Charlton. All the facilities are fully fenced and floodlit for evening and winter use.”

Formally opening the new pitches with the mayor and representatives from Manchester City FC, chairman of governors Laurence Goldberg said: “The school pitches are fantastic, but the most striking thing is that we have already taken substantial bookings from local community clubs and societies — and we have sold 80 per cent of the possible lettings.

"It is also my pleasure to say an enormous thank you to our kind donors and friends, especially the late Old Boy, Clifford Billings, whose family members are welcomed here today.”

Due to the premium quality and accessibility of these new facilities, Manchester City Football Club is having one of its academy satellite training camps at the school.

Ryan Todd, junior academy administration assistant, said: “The pitches are fantastic and will be of great benefit to boys who use them in the future.”