Multi-million pound school project opens doors to students
20 Sep 2021
Doors have opened on two new schools in Hexham welcoming students back for the first time since the summer break.
Students and staff at Hexham Middle School and Queen Elizabeth High School now have access to large contemporary classrooms, open learning spaces, spacious, fit-for-purpose dining and modern sports halls.
Northumberland County Council commissioned the works in early 2019, successfully securing additional funding from the Department for Education.
Over £37m has been invested in the project which includes both the Middle and High school, a 3G pitch, new six and two-court halls which the wider community will benefit from, and separate external multi-use games areas.
Councillor Guy Renner-Thompson, cabinet member with responsibility for children’s services, said: “The new school facilities are phenomenal, encompassing new and old, bringing together character with a modern, spacious feel. It is a great space for the students to learn.”
Feeding off the iconic, Grade-II listed Hydro building, which has been fully refurbished thanks to funding from the Department for Education, is the new Middle school and High school buildings, forming a cloistered courtyard at the heart of the site, using reclaimed materials from the walled garden.
Students at Queen Elizabeth High School had already benefitted from some of the new facilities prior to the summer break. They had been able to make use of the new all-weather 3G pitch which was made possible thanks to investment from the Premier League, The FA and Government's Football Foundation. Forming part of the sports and community facilities, the 3G pitch will not only benefit the students of Hexham Middle and Queen Elizabeth High schools but the local community too.
Student, Tesni, said: “The new all-weather pitch is fantastic. We’ve had our PE lessons there and everyone has been really excited to be on it. We’ve also had netball and tennis lessons on the new MUGA, which has been great and a big improvement on being on the yard at the front of the lower school.”
Graeme Atkins, Executive Headteacher at Hadrian Learning Trust, said: “The great thing about this project is the distinct identity each school retains whilst still enabling the benefits of a very close working relationship in the interests of pupils.
“It provides a clear sense of progression through the different phases of a young person’s educational journey, providing each individual with a ‘home of their own’. We are all so pleased to have now welcomed them back into their new facilities and can’t wait for them to start enjoying this great learning environment, which will also benefit the wider community.”
Councillor Cath Homer, local ward member for Hexham East, said: "I am so pleased that children and young people in Hexham and the surrounding areas are now able to access these great educational facilities.
"It is a wonderful achievement to finally see the two new schools and all the additional facilities open for use by the staff, students and wider community. It is without doubt that both Queen Elizabeth High School and Hexham Middle School have always delivered good quality education for our children despite the deteriorating condition of the former buildings and finally we are able to see first class facilities to match that education offer.
"I’m delighted for the staff and the pupils and wish them every success in their new schools."
Councillor Trevor Cessford, local ward member for Hexham Central with Acomb, said. "The students have worked wonders over the years to achieve what they have done, and so fully deserve to have a school that is fit for purpose to enable them to reach their true potential. The staff also deserve to have the best teaching environment and facilities that will enable them to assist their students to reach their goals".
To view the project’s journey and find out more visit https://padlet.com/Northumberland/hexham
Northumberland County Council is committed to improving education prospects for all and school investment continues to be the council’s largest ever capital programme.
Cath McEvoy-Carr, Executive Director for Adult and Children’s services, said: “This project has been at the very heart of what we want to achieve for our children and young people.
“Each and every child in Northumberland deserves access to good education, and by investing in our schools and settings we hope to be able to achieve that for many years to come.”