New high school could be open in three years

A long-awaited new high school could be welcoming its first students in just over three years’ time, it has been revealed.

North Northumberland MP Sir Alan Beith has been told that the replacement for the ageing Duchess’s Community High School in Alnwick will be in the first tranche of new buildings agreed by the Government.

It was one of 261 with buildings in poor condition which made it onto the Priority School Building Programme, announced by Education Secretary Michael Gove in May.

Land for the project has already been earmarked by the Duke of Northumberland’s Estates at Greensfield, on the southern edge of town.

Sir Alan said: “Every time I have seen Michael Gove – officially or in passing – I have reminded him about the very real need Alnwick’s students, teachers and staff are facing on a daily basis.

“The flash flooding last week has added to that need.

“I am very pleased the Government has confirmed that Alnwick will be in the first batch of new schools and the Department for Education’s estimated time-scale means we could see students studying in a new building in September 2015.

“We are all working together to keep the project on track and on time.”

Northumberland County Council, meanwhile, has pledged to meet any shortfall which may arise in the projected rebuild costs.

Leader, Coun Jeff Reid, said: “We are now looking closely at the detail of the Government’s scheme and if there is a gap in funding, the council will find a way to bridge it.

“We have always said that we could not put a figure on the Council’s contribution towards Alnwick’s new school until we knew how much funding was coming from central government.

“We are now working closely with officials from the Department for Education to make sure we get the best possible replacement school for future generations of children from Alnwick and the surrounding area.”

County councillor for Alnwick, Gordon Castle, added: “This has been a joint effort from the beginning, with everyone from parents, staff, local politicians and the whole community adding their voice to the pressure for a new high school.

“A replacement high school has been my first priority from my earliest days on the county council and Labour, Conservative and Lib Dems have taken the same line.”