A £36m investment in building two schools on one site will not pave the way for a two-tier system in Hexham.

That was the message from Graeme Atkins, the executive headteacher of Hadrian Learning Trust, which operates Hexham’s Queen Elizabeth High School and Hexham Middle School, at an event to announce Galliford Try as the preferred contractor to construct new buildings for both schools.

From September 2021, middle school pupils will move into brand new buildings on the existing high school site at Whetstone Bridge, where new buildings for the high school children will also be created.

Some parents had expressed concerns the shared site would force through a move away from the current three-tier system, while some feared children as young as nine would be forced to mix with 18-year-olds.

However, Mr Atkins said the schools would operate separately and would have their own buildings, playing fields, sports halls and dining areas.

He said: “They are going to be pretty segregated. 

“Those in Years 5 and 6 will be completely segregated, but Years 7 and 8 will be predominantly based in the middle school.

“But they will have access to specialist facilities in the high school, which will only help the transition to high school.”

Detailed plans, including a 3D model of how the schools would look, were unveiled at the event, where it was also revealed that the high school would continue to operate in its existing buildings while construction of the new schools took place.

The new buildings would also feature technology designed to reduce carbon emissions. 

The Grade-II listed Hydro and Winter Gardens buildings would take centre stage at the site, with the new buildings erected behind these.

Public consultation events are due to take place at the high school on September 11 and 14.