THE Education Secretary paid a visit to two Hexham schools.

Nadhim Zahawi visited Queen Elizabeth High School and Hexham Middle School to officially open the new school buildings on Thursday (June 9).

The minister was given a tour by executive headteacher of both schools Graeme Atkins and pupils before he cut the ribbon in front of the historic hydro building and unveiled a plaque marking the occasion in the entrance hallway.

Pupils at the schools moved into new buildings on the existing high school’s site in September. The middle school was previously located on Wanless Lane in the town.

Hexham Courant: The Education Secretary was given a tour of the school.The Education Secretary was given a tour of the school.

Mr Zahawi said it was "one of the finest sites" he had seen during his time as Education Secretary.

He added: "Your member of parliament [Guy Opperman] is a force of nature. The county council and everybody involved, especially our two brilliant heads who have done incredible things at this school, have gone above and beyond throughout Covid and beyond."

Mr Atkins also spoke to thank all those involved in the project, including the contractors, the county council and the Hadrian Learning Trust team.

Hexham MP Guy Opperman said: "I was delighted to welcome Nadhim Zahawi to Queen Elizabeth High School and Hexham Middle School.

"The schools have undergone massive change on a 9-year journey since I welcomed the Schools Minister in 2013 and secured the first commitment for change. 

"Many thanks to the Headteacher Graeme, and the team who have done a terrific job."

The £37m scheme has brought state-of-the-art new facilities for students at both schools.

Although the two schools share a reception site and some specialist classrooms, the middle school pupils are largely segregated from the high school students.

Students and staff now have access to large contemporary classrooms, open learning spaces, spacious, fit-for-purpose dining areas, and large halls/theatres.

Extensive sports facilities include modern sports halls, a fitness suite, a hockey pitch, a 3G football and rugby pitch, six tennis courts, and a multi-use games area.

During the minister's visit, a group of protesters held banners outside the school criticising both the government and Brexit.

Hexham Courant: Janet and James Sheeran.Janet and James Sheeran.