Northumberland's school building programme praised
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New high schools have been built in Hexham, Prudhoe and Ponteland since 2016, with more at various stages of development in Berwick, Cramlington, Amble and the Seaton Valley, while Haydon Bridge High School received significant investment to upgrade facilities.
Cllr Guy Renner-Thompson, cabinet member with responsibility for inspiring young people at Northumberland County Council, said: “This is a really exciting time for education in Northumberland.
“Not only are Ofsted ratings at a record high and well above the national average – our ambitious school capital investment programme continues to take shape.
“We’ve completed projects in Haydon Bridge, Ponteland and Hexham – now we’re moving on to Amble, Seaton Valley and Berwick and also lots of other investment and improvement programmes are taking place too around the county.
“We want our schools to be fit for the future and the new high schools will use innovative technologies to create net zero carbon in operation schools.
“The council also spends on average over £2m per year addressing maintenance issues across our maintained school estate.”
It comes as more than 150 schools were told they would have to either fully or partially shut, just days before the start of the new term. The concerns were sparked by the presence of reinforced autoclaved aerated concrete (RAAC) – a building material used between the 1950s and the 1990s now assessed to be a dangerous collapse risk.
Coun Renner-Thompson continued: “We would like to reassure families that our investigations have found no evidence of the presence of RAAC in our maintained schools in Northumberland.
“Academies are liaising directly with the Department for Education, but we have not been made aware of any instances of RAAC being present in their buildings at this time.
“Our education provision in Northumberland is fantastic. We have brilliant teachers and support staff, a great curriculum offer and fabulous early years provision, but it is still important that this is supported by continued investment and improvements so that all our children and young people can thrive and reach their full potential.”