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Education Secretary praises £5.8m school in Ponteland

Damian Hinds, back left, Coun Wayne Daley, Darras Hall Primary School headteacher Victoria Parr and head students Laurence Hattaway, Adam Secker and Charlotte Courtney. Picture by Helen Smith.
Damian Hinds, back left, Coun Wayne Daley, Darras Hall Primary School headteacher Victoria Parr and head students Laurence Hattaway, Adam Secker and Charlotte Courtney. Picture by Helen Smith.

The Secretary of State for Education was impressed with the Ponteland school he visited on Monday.

After meeting pupils, teachers and county politicians, Damian Hinds was given a tour of the new £5.8million Darras Hall Primary School and saw children working in their new classrooms.

Pupils then sang their school song before he was invited to unveil a plaque to declare the school officially open and say a few words to the assembled school and visitors.

Built by Northumberland County Council, it features state-of-the-art facilities including ‘learning streets’ on both the ground and first floors, two multi-use studios, a hall that can be used for both school and community events and a library and reading area.

An outside classroom and a wildlife and garden area will allow the children to grow their own vegetables.

The new buildings, fronting on to Middle Drive, were constructed on what were sports pitches at the same site. The former school buildings will be demolished in stages.

A new playing field and multi-use outdoor play area for pupils is due for completion next month.

The Education Secretary said: “It was a pleasure to see the infectious enthusiasm of teachers and pupils at Darras Hall Primary School and I look forward to seeing them flourish in the coming years.”

On the same day, Mr Hinds announced the £24million Opportunity North East programme.

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.

Coun Wayne Daley, cabinet member for children’s services and deputy leader of Northumberland County Council, welcomed Mr Hinds to the school.

He said: “We were delighted that Mr Hinds was able to join us and officially declare this fantastic new school open.

“This major investment in education in the county has created great new learning and teaching environments for pupils and staff.”

During the visit, Coun Daley took the opportunity to discuss some key issues with the Education Secretary, such as improving educational outcomes in the region, the challenges facing education in the county and opportunities available within Northumberland, the National Funding Formula and how the county council is currently working with both academies and maintained schools.