IF Devizes School succeeds in its bid for sports college status it will be down to the enthusiasm and support of the local community, said headteacher Malcolm Irons.

Mr Irons said he has been overwhelmed by the support from businesses, clubs, schools and individuals for the bid, which could attract £100,000 funding from the Department for Education and Skills.

The school needs to raise £50,000 in sponsorship to attract the extra funding and to qualify for sports college status. Since the bid was launched in February, it has attracted thousands of pounds of sponsorship from local firms, leaving it between £5,000 and £6,000 short of its target with three months still to go.

Mr Irons said: "We are so grateful to them. The capital build which their contributions will make possible will help us deliver improved PE teaching in the school."

The governors' plan is to improve and extend the existing school gymnasium, and expand the cramped changing rooms so that two teams can change at the same time. A staff room will also be built.

A two-storey extension will be built on to the side of the old gymnasium, providing space for a PE classroom and fitness suite.

"Above these will be two offices for the staff running the sports college and a viewing gallery.

The school's bid will be strengthened by the opening this week of a half-million-pound artificial turf pitch, providing a secure, all-weather venue for hockey, football and many other sports.

Devizes Leisure Centre is on the school campus and the large sports hall is shared by the school and the centre.

But Mr Irons stressed: "The people who scrutinise the bids don't just look at the facilities on offer.

"They want to see that it is supported by the whole community. That is why we are so grateful to our sponsors. They are giving us much more than money. They are giving their support and enthusiasm which is so important in raising our morale."

Because so many people have been involved in developing the bid, Mr Irons is reluctant to single people out. He said Kennet District Council has been immensely supportive, and the partner schools in the bid, Rowdeford, Lavington, Nursteed, Wansdyke, Southbroom Junior and Potterne have contributed information and ideas.

He said: "I would also like to thank my deputy, Mark Knighton, and Sue Marshall, the head of PE.

"They are putting in so much work on this bid, it is taking over their lives. We have also had so much support from all the governors."

There is still some way to go. The bid has to be in by October 17 and Mr Irons knows his staff will be working up to the last minute to finalise it.

The school, however, will not know whether it has been successful or not until early January.

Mr Irons said: "If we are successful we will have a very short time to get the school ready to open as a sports college in September next year."

Businesses supporting the bid include Wadworth, Cebal UK Ltd, Linpac Corrugated Cases, Cross Manufacturing, Roses Ironmongers, Atwell Martin estate agents, the Builder Center, Ferris and Culverwell, Fussell Wadman, Wiltshire Waste, Lloyds TSB, Wansboroughs solicitors, Avon Trophies, David Owen, Charlton Baker, Carter Pumps, Mike Wood Tyres and Awdry, Bailey and Douglas.

The bid has also had donations from Bishops Cannings Cricket Club and Devizes Lions Club.