A TOTAL of £37m has been earmarked to build two new schools in Hexham.

It was revealed this week that Northumberland County Council is proposing to contribute £23m towards the project to create new buildings for Queen Elizabeth High School and Hexham Middle School. The rest of the money will come from the government.

As part of its forthcoming budget, councillors will be asked to give the green light to the administration’s investment plan for the schools, which are run by multi-academy trust, the Hadrian Learning Trust.

It is understood both schools would be built on the current high school site at Whetstone Bridge Road, and high school pupils would continue to use the current building while work is carried out.

However, cabinet members were keen to stress that the move would not signal a transition to a two-tier system.

The buildings currently housing the two schools have long been deemed in need of upgrades, and the proposed investment, expected to be in the region of £37m, will be welcome news to parents, pupils and members of staff. It is unclear what will happen to the Hexham Middle School building following the move.

The investment is a further boost to education in west Northumberland following the announcement that the council will pour £6m into Haydon Bridge High School.

A total of £4.5m is to be spent on building works, which will include a new vocational centre, and the remaining £1.54m has been allocated to support the development of a new curriculum, leadership and management support, and a staff training programme.

Coun. Wayne Daley, portfolio holder for children’s services, said the plans were part of a pledge to make £142m available over the next three years for education across the county.

“This is one of the most ambitious investments in education the authority has ever made,” he said.

“Whether Bellingham, or Blyth, we have a programme which is delivering investment across the county.”, and we are very excited about it. We are investing in infrastructure which will lead to better learning and the creation of better jobs.”