Berwick is '˜top of the agenda' say councillors
Councillors in Berwick have welcomed a funding boost for education in the North East, amid claims the town is now '˜top of the agenda'.
On Monday, Education Secretary Damian Hinds visited Northumberland to announce a new £24million programme for the region, dubbed Opportunity North East.
Half of the fund is set to be invested in boosting early career training for new teachers in a bid to raise standards in schools.
The remaining £12million will go towards driving up standards, improving outcomes for students aged 16 or over and improving pupil transition between schools to ensure that progress is maintained.
The programme will also partner with local businesses in order to create more opportunities for young people across the region.
During his visit, Mr Hinds met Coun Wayne Daley, the deputy leader and cabinet member for children’s services at Northumberland County Council, and Berwick MP Anne-Marie Trevelyan.
In a joint statement, the three county councillors for Berwick, Georgina Hill, Gregah Roughead and Catherine Seymour, said: “We are delighted to hear confirmation of the news of this additional education investment and of the meeting Coun Daley and the MP held with the Secretary of State for Education, where Berwick was top of the agenda.
“Some progress has been made, but there is a long way to go for Berwick Academy.
“We are holding regular dialogue with Coun Daley and the Department of Education and lobbying hard for schools in Berwick, and particularly the Academy, to undertake meaningful change and to receive significant attention and investment.”
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Coun Daley said: “This is extremely good news and a very welcome investment in education in our region.
“We’ve been lobbying government to get this funding and we are delighted that he came to Northumberland following my invitation.
“We look forward to seeing further detail around plans for the Challenge Fund, and to working with partner authorities and with our own schools to ensure that we gain maximum benefit for children and young people in Northumberland.
“We had positive and detailed discussions with the Secretary of State during his visit to the county as we continue to strive to improve standards and ambition in all our schools.”
Regarding the new hospital, leisure centre and other recent developments, the trio said that Berwick ‘is no longer the forgotten town’, adding: “There is no magic wand and there is a lot of work still to be done.
“However, after over 40 barren years when nothing was delivered for Berwick, Berwick is now on the map and investment in a range of areas has been won and is currently being bid for.”
There is now a clear route of influence and to the key decision-makers at County Hall and in central government.
“Residents in Berwick have had to endure decades when next to nothing was achieved for the town, now we are ushering in a new era of delivery and things are finally happening.”