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New start in Northumberland

07 June 2013

NEARLY four years after it took its first pupils, and six months after they moved into new £53-million buildings, the Northumberland Church of England Academy - the largest academy in England - was officially opened last month by its sponsors, the Bishop of Newcastle, the Rt Revd Martin Wharton, and the Duke of Northumberland.

Their partnership revives a tradition dating back to the 19th century, when successive Dukes made large contributions to the establishment of C of E schools throughout the county.

The 21st-century partnership is even closer: the academy's governing body is chaired by the Northumberland Estate's land agent, Rory Wilson, and includes four members from the estate, and four from the diocese. The sponsors have also made equal contributions to a £1.5-million endowment social fund.

Spread over five campuses, the academy replaces ten schools in one of the most socially disadvantaged areas in England. It has 550 staff, and 2500 pupils, who will increase next year to 3000.

One of a growing number of "all-through" schools, from next year its age range will be from two to 19 years. The executive director, Andrew Day, says: "We believe we can do the best for our children if we have them from the day they start school."



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