The next generation of high performance athletes in full-time education could receive access to a level of access unheard of on the Isle of Man.

Sport England, an arm’s-length body, has extended its Talented Athlete Scholarship Scheme (TASS) to the island.

The move follows discussions, which started at the Birmingham Commonwealth Games in 2022, between Sport England, Isle of Man Sport and the Department of Education, Sport and Culture (DESC).

The Scheme operates at further education and higher education level, with both colleges and sixth forms, as well as universities invited to apply to become TASS Dual Career Accredited Sites.

Secondary schools and University College Isle of Man are already being supported to gain a TASS accreditation, which recognises flexibility and understanding should be shown to young athletes attempting to balance their hectic sporting schedule with studies.

The process is being overseen by Nikki Arthur, a newly appointed co-ordinator, fully funded by IoM Sport, meaning there is no extra work for schools.

Nikki is also overseeing a pilot performance development programme, which currently helps 33 potential stars with mentoring and access to facilities, performance services and workshops that fit around their school day.

Rising mountain bike star, Issac Batty, is one of the first on the pilot scheme. The 17 year old, said: ‘The programme has been great so far as it has given me the opportunity to get to know other people working towards similar goals. The strength and conditioning programming has been really enjoyable and is really helping my training.’

Daphne Caine MHK, Minister for Education Sport and Culture, said: ‘The TASS and Performance Development Programme is an innovative and potentially transformative project for the Isle of Man that will help ensure our island’s young people are provided the best chance to reach their sporting and educational potential. It will build on the great work that already goes on in the island’s schools and recognise their support for our next generation of stars.’

Paul Jones, sports performance co-ordinator, added: ‘This is such an exciting opportunity that could see unheard of levels of support for young people and their families, structured around their studies. Should all be successful, the island would hold a unique status within the British Isles as the only jurisdiction to have its whole education system signed up.’

The government say it is hoped that all secondary schools and UCM will have gained the accreditation by September 2024.