ONE of the Tyne Valley's high schools has welcomed back pupils with a new, multi-million pound improvement project.

Northumberland County Council have spent more than £4m renovating main buildings at Haydon Bridge High School, including improvements at its vocational and sports centre and the addition of a multi-use games area.

It continues a change in fortunes for the school, which was almost closed several years ago due to poor Ofsted performance and low student numbers.

However, after a consultation found that parents wanted the school to remain open, it was saved from closure - and has now been rewarded with the highest number of Year 7 students being welcomed back for the 2020/21 school year.

Cath McEvoy-Carr, Executive Director of Adult and Children’s Services said: “We have been absolutely blown away by the transformation this school has had.

"To think only just a few years ago this was a school being considered for closure, and we were able to step in and change that, giving it the investment it needed to bring it back up to standard is amazing.

“It now offers students everything they need to learn, the opportunities to grow and the facilities to take part in almost anything they set their minds to.”

The changes made the school one of just seven locations able to offer some of Northumberland's Learning and Skills Courses.

The learning and skills service has taken an agile approach to their portfolio of courses, opening opportunities for young people to access full-time courses at seven of their ten campuses across the county.

Courses are available to suit all interests, whether those interests are in business or digital skills, the beauty industry, caring for others or professional cookery - the range of courses across a number of campuses to develop new skills or gain experience in a trade.

With career-focused learning ranging from construction to digital skills, as well as hairdressing and health and social care to name just a few; young people can gain skills for life and work, as well as the confidence to succeed.

There are campuses offering school leavers’ courses in Alnwick, Berwick, Blyth, Cramlington, Haydon Bridge, Hexham and Prudhoe, keeping learning local and for all to be able to access high level learning opportunities.

Haydon Bridge's headteacher Darren Glover said he was delighted with the change that brought "top of the range" facilities for students.

Mr Glover was appointed as headteacher just before Bright Tribe's failed attempt to take over the school - but since then, he has overseen improvements at the school, which was long plagued by poor Ofsted reports, but has recently shown signs of recovery.

Along with deputy head Helen Jackson, Mr Glover worked hard to keep the school open during lockdown, keeping the school open for children of key workers and vulnerable students almost singlehandedly.

It meant other staff were able to teach entirely from home, as opposed to teaching on a rota basis like most other schools.

This was despite the fact the school's problems were compounded by the enormous catchment area of the school - the largest of any high school in England.

Their hard work saw them nominated for the Hexham Courants Bouquet of the Week award in August, after they were nominated by staff member Elizabeth Hicks.

Speaking at the time, she said: "They went over and above what was required of them, for the students, their parents, the key workers and the staff.

"Teaching remotely to students scattered over 700 square miles has demanded an enormous outlay of time and energy to keep the school community connected. These two freed up staff to be able to do that."