Image demonstrating Work underway on two new schools for Hexham

Work underway on two new schools for Hexham

One of the largest new schools developments in Northumberland is now underway - with the official cutting of the first turf at the site in Hexham this week.  

Hexham Middle School and Queen Elizabeth High School are being redeveloped on the site of the current high school.

The £36.1m project will bring state of the art new buildings and facilities for students at both schools, along with sports and leisure facilities which will also be available for community use.

It is being largely funded by Northumberland County Council with a contribution from the Government’s Department for Education.  

In light of the council’s commitment to climate change and reducing emissions, an additional £400,000 will be invested in sustainability measures - looking to ensure that the new buildings achieve an energy EPC A rating.

The historic listed Hydro building will be retained, and new buildings for both the middle and high schools constructed to the west of the existing site.  

Northumberland County Council leader Peter Jackson and deputy leader and cabinet member for children’s services Wayne Daley joined representatives of Hadrian Learning Trust, which runs the schools, local county councillors and representatives of developers Galliford Try to cut the first turf.

Cllr Daley said: “I am delighted that construction is underway on this most significant development for education in West Northumberland.

“It will create inspiring learning environments for students from Hexham and surrounding communities for years to come - transforming education provision in the area.  It will also maximise operational efficiencies for the Hadrian Learning Trust, meaning that resources can be focused on educating our children and young people, and not on maintaining ageing buildings.”

Council leader Peter Jackson said:  “The scheme forms part of the council’s largest ever programme of capital investment, where we are spending £158m on schools in Northumberland as part of a £678.5m capital programme which will boost the county’s economy, improve education prospects for all and create new infrastructure for the future.”

Cath Homer, local Hexham county councillor and cabinet member for culture, arts, leisure and tourism, added: “I am absolutely delighted to see work getting underway on this development, after being a long-term and very strong supporter of new schools in the town.  

“My particular interest is in culture, leisure and the arts, and I will be working closely with the project team to ensure that the excellent new facilities allow strong cultural and creative aspects to learning, as well as modern and sustainable sporting facilities for use not only by students but by the local community.”

The council has been working closely with Hadrian Learning Trust on the proposals which will see the two schools retain their own distinctiveness and spaces for each age group, while allowing the Trust as a whole to benefit from the educational, operational and financial benefits of sharing one site.

Graeme Atkins, executive headteacher of Hadrian Learning Trust, said: “We are very pleased that works on site have begun in earnest. There is no doubt that what is now taking shape will result in a truly wonderful learning environment, and one that our young people deserve.”

The development is a design and build project and leading UK construction company Galliford Try has been awarded the contract to deliver it.

Cliff Wheatley, managing director for Galliford Try North East and Yorkshire, said: “We are delighted to be able to start this ambitious project on site. 

“The new schools will deliver a lasting change to the local community in Hexham and we look forward to playing our part in creating a high-quality facility for the staff and pupils of the new campus.”

The construction work is being carried out in phases and during the initial stages the Hydro building itself will remain open, with access closed off to areas where the construction is taking place. 

Later in the first phase the Hydro Building will also be refurbished, with the new buildings constructed to the rear, and car parking, external hard courts and artificial sports pitches completed.  

For the second phase students will move into the new buildings and the then redundant lower school building will be demolished, with new bus parking area and grass pitches established there.

The new schools are scheduled to open in September 2021.
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