THE public will get to see detailed plans for a multi-million scheme to build two new schools in Hexham tonight.

Northumberland County Council is inviting people along to Queen Elizabeth High School between 6.30pm and 8pm to scrutinise proposals for new buildings for both the high school and Hexham Middle School in a £37m project.

The council last week revealed it would commit £23m towards the project, with the remaining cash coming from central government through the Education and Skills Funding Agency.

This week, the council confirmed it would continue to own the buildings and then lease them to the Hadrian Learning Trust, the charitable educational trust which runs both schools.

Coun. Wayne Daley, the cabinet member for children’s services, admitted it was unusual for an authority to use public money for trust buildings but insisted the decision had been made to ensure all schools in Northumberland achieved high standards.

Hadrian Learning Trust’s executive headteacher, Graeme Atkins, said: “Co-locating the middle and high schools provides a unique opportunity to enhance the quality of educational experience for our young people. Our ambition is to create inspiring and purposeful learning environments that will serve them well for many years to come.

“Maintaining each school’s distinctiveness, the intention is to establish a clear sense of progression through the different phases of a pupil’s educational journey, providing each young person with a ‘home of their own’.”

County councillor for Hexham East, Cath Homer, said she was thrilled with the proposals after campaigning since 2013.

She said: “It’s the best high school in the county and hats off to them for receiving such high grades in buildings which are dilapidating. Someone’s listened and there are lots of benefits of the two schools being on one site, particularly the transition from middle to high school.”

Hexham East county councillor Derek Kennedy said he had campaigned for a new high school building for the past 16 years and would be in favour of proposals which integrated the history of the area.

Hexham’s MP Guy Opperman said: “When I became the MP in 2010, I heard time and again from local people that not enough was being invested in our schools. That’s why it has been my priority ever since to ensure government, both local and national, funds the improvements we need to our schools.”

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