Construction has begun on a new £50m joint campus for two south east Northumberland schools, one of Northumberland County Council’s flagship school projects.

The ‘super-school’ in Seaton Delaval will become the new home of over 1,000 pupils at Astley Community High School and Whytrig Middle School, and its facilities will include a swimming pool and sports fields.

Pupils from both schools, part of the Seaton Valley Federation, attended a groundbreaking ceremony to mark the start of construction work, which is due to be complete by September 2025.

Lewis, a year six pupil at Whytrig Middle School, said: “It looks like an amazing site so far and I will be proud to come to school here.

“I am most looking forward to the school fields and sports hall, and we will be able to access larger areas to learn and play sport.

“I would like to be a builder or a structural engineer, so it is exciting for me to see a working site and to see how it is going to be transformed from a grassy field into a massive school.

“I think the future looks really bright here and there will be more opportunities.”

John Barnes, executive headteacher at the Seaton Valley Federation, said: “The kids are absolutely buzzing. The scale of the operation is huge and we are going to have such a brilliant facility, not just for the pupils but for the community as well.”

The schools will have separate classrooms at the new premises but will share science labs, art studios, and some other facilities. The school building is designed to be carbon neutral in operation.

In addition to the pool, multi-use games areas totalling seven tennis courts and a fitness studio will be built as well as real and artificial surface pitches, which will be available for community use outside of teaching hours.

Parking proposals consist of a ‘park and stride’ with a new car park a few minutes’ walk from the premises.

Tony Fitzgerald, construction director at the site’s contractor BAM, said: “This is one of the biggest sites we have worked with and includes extensive sports facilities.

“As well as turning these plans into reality we will also be working closely with the schools to involve young people as much as possible, from providing real-world work experience in the many disciplines within the construction industry, to apprenticeship opportunities.

“Making a difference to the communities that we are working in is a really important driver for BAM.”

A new school building was first proposed in 2016. The schools currently have a multi-million-pound backlog of repairs and the presence of asbestos means refurbishments are impossible without closing large parts of the schools.

Cllr Guy Renner-Thompson, cabinet member for education, said: “It is absolutely fantastic to stand here and see the plans for this amazing new super-school start to take shape.

“This investment in our young people and the wider community will transform education and sports facilities in Seaton Valley for generations to come, bringing wide-ranging benefits to education, health, and well-being.”

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