STAFF and pupils are celebrating after it was announced that a South Tyneside school is to receive £1.9million to build a sixth form.
Whitburn Church of England Academy has been awarded the cash by the Education Funding Agency to create the sixth form, which will serve up to 280 pupils.
The school received permission from the Department of Education to expand on Tuesday, following a formal consultation in 2012.
The expansion plans were put on hold following the consultation until funding was available, to allow the school to build additional classrooms and sixth form facilities.
Building an Academy has been a long-term aim for the academy, and the formal consultation demonstrated that 98 per cent of parents and carers were in favour of adding the facility to the school.
The principal of Whitburn Academy, Alan Hardie, said the funding is “fantastic news” for pupils.
“Over the last three years, we have been working to build capacity for sixth-form provision, once the opportunity arose,” he said.
“Recent appointments for teaching posts have been made with this in mind, and additional A-level training has been part of our professional development programme for all teaching staff for some time.
“There is much work to be done in the lead-up to September 2015, in order to deliver the outstanding post-16 education that our pupils deserve.
“Our focus will now be on recruiting additional staff with strong track records in post-16 teaching and ensuring that all teaching staff are fully aware of what it takes to deliver outstanding A-level provision.”
He added: “I would like to thank our parents and carers for their patience and support, especially those who took the time to write to Mr Gove in support of our funding bid.
“The hard work starts now, but we all look forward to the next exciting phase for our unique school.”
Jean Mulley, chairman of governors, said: “I am absolutely delighted with the news that the academy has been granted funding to build our new sixth form.
“The principal and governors have worked hard on the bid to secure this funding, and our hard work has been rewarded.
“Parents and pupils will be pleased to hear this fantastic news as sixth-form education adds another dimension to this outstanding academy.
“The provision of sixth-form education at Whitburn Academy was a vision of the late headteacher Paula Williams. It is a tribute to her memory that the building can now go ahead.”
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