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
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."