The education of school children will not be disrupted during upcoming building works, it has been claimed.

Northumberland County Council has been in talks with two potential contractors bidding to build the £37m development of replacement buildings for Hexham's Queen Elizabeth High School and Hexham Middle School.

The county council hopes to announce a preferred bidder by the end of next month.

A spokeswoman for the council said: "Work is progressing well on securing a contract for construction of two new schools in Hexham, and confirming a preferred bidder.

"Reports will be taken through council committees in the coming weeks. 

"We hope to be in a position to announce a preferred bidder towards the end of August.

"Consultation will then take place on the proposed design for the school during September, before a planning application is submitted.

"Once a design is agreed and planning permission secured a programme of construction will be developed.

"This will include ensuring that the education of all students can take place in an effective manner. Parents will be kept fully involved and informed."

The plans would see the two schools built on the same location as the high school's current Whetstone Bridge Road site.

The final business case for the school will go before the council's cabinet next Tuesday.

However, the item will be discussed in private so commercially sensitive information relating to the contract can be heard. 

Residents have long called for a new school to replace the ageing QEHS. 

The county council committed to investing in a new high school in May last year, after academy chain Hadrian Learning Trust's application to extend the school's age range and move to a two-tier system was rejected. 

Further details of the project were unveiled in February. 

Work is scheduled to start on the new schools next February, with the aim of opening the schools in September 2021.