Delight at funding for new school
Northumberland County Council has earmarked at least £15million for a new school on the site of Berwick Academy.
The announcement was made at last week’s budget meeting alongside a massive cash injection into James Calvert Spence College in Amble.
Both proposals are now subject to the development of detailed business cases, which will involve the schools working alongside the council and building professionals to develop the best proposals for each scheme.
The current Berwick Academy buildings date back to the 1950s and have been the subject of concern due to their continuing dilapidation as well as the layout of the buildings, which are spread across a large area on a sloping site.
Acting head Tracy Hush said: “It’s brilliant news. This is now an incredibly exciting time for the school and we look forward to working with the council on where to go from here.
“The current school buildings are not fit for purpose and we’re not short of land so I think we’ll be looking to rebuild on site, although I would hope there will be elements of the existing buildings which can be included.”
The plans are part of the council’s largest ever programme of investment – with £589million proposed over the next three years to boost the county’s economy, improve education prospects for all and create new infrastructure for the future.
Coun Wayne Daley, deputy leader and cabinet member for children’s services said: “I am delighted that we have been able to announce these plans for a new school in Berwick, and major long overdue investment into Amble’s only high school.
“These ambitious plans are just part of our wider commitment to educational excellence in Northumberland - and come on the back of recent announcements about new schools in Seaton Delaval and in Hexham.”
Responding to concerns that £15million for a new school in Berwick is low compared with nearby new builds, he explained: “The current figure for investment into Berwick will be subject to a robust business case and engagement with key partners, and the minimum figure of £15million shows the commitment of the council to investing in the future of young people.”
Coun Georgina Hill, speaking on behalf of the town’s county councillors, added: “This commitment to invest in a new school for Berwick is really good news.
“There has been a lot of concern in the town about certain aspects of the current education provision, and we are very glad to see that these concerns are being taken seriously and acted upon by the council.”
James Calvert Spence College has been meeting with Cllr Daley and officers for some time to look at how they can develop their school, and how the school might support the council with SEND and other important provision.
Amble has also seen over 2,000 new houses approved in recent years and the town needs a school fit for the 21st century.
Coun Jeff Watson, member for the Amble West with Warkworth ward, also welcomed the announcement of investment in James Calvert Spence.
He said: “I am very pleased that the council has confirmed this multi-million pound investment in Amble’s high school.
“Along with Coun Daley I have been working for some time to secure funding that will ensure that the school has the facilities it needs to be fully fit for purpose, and will give our young people an excellent environment in which to learn.
“I know that the details have to be developed as part of a business case but the news that this investment will happen is fantastic for Amble and surrounding communities.”