Pupils visit £23m school – before it's built!

SOUTH Tyneside pupils have taken a look around their new school – before it is even built.

The new South Shields Community School is taking shape on the site of the former King George V School in Nevinson Avenue, South Shields, and isn't set to open until September 2011.

But students were able to 'wander around' the finished article yesterday, thanks to online design company Vector76.

The Gateshead-based business has created a three-dimensional replica in virtual world Second Life.

The computer game means students can create avatars of themselves, take a look at their new school and even pick up their homework in the future.

King George merged with Brink-burn School in April 2007, and students are currently based at the former Brinkburn site in McAnany Avenue.

It means, unlike most new-build schools, South Shields Community School students don't see their 21.3m school taking shape daily.

Head of support services Janet Burdon said: "That's why we came up with the idea. It means they know where everything is when we move in.

"It's great to look at the school through a computer game, but it also means we can play around with colours and interior designs.

"In the future, students can go to the right department, pick up their homework, do it, and put it back on the right teacher's desk."

The virtual school was the brainchild of Key Stage 4 co-ordinator Graham Trick.

He came up with the idea when he first saw the 3D mock-up of the school, created by Ryder Architects, and thought it would be great if the kids were able to walk around and get a feel for their future surroundings.

Mr Trick added: "The feedback has been really positive so far. It has definitely had the wow factor.

"Students will really begin to use it after half-term as part of Teen Second Life, with one class taking part in a project to build South Tyneside landmarks in the 'world'."