Opening of Hexham's two new schools is delayed for the second time

By James Robinson

Hundreds of pupils at two Northumberland schools will be remote learning for the rest of the week after the opening of two brand new buildings was delayed for a second time.

The all-new Queen Elizabeth High School and Hexham Middle School buildings on Whetstone Bridge Road in Hexham were due to open at the start of term, but were delayed until Wednesday, September 15. Contractor Gailford Try blamed the impact of the coronavirus crisis.

However, parents have since been informed that the building will now not be ready for students and teachers to come in until Monday.

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Northumberland County Council said the delay was down to a national shortage of construction materials. The council and the team behind the project have thanked students and their families for their "continued patience and understanding".

Councillor Guy Renner-Thompson, cabinet member with responsibility for children’s services at Northumberland County Council, said: “We want to take this opportunity to thank all the parents, carers and students affected by this delay for their continued patience and understanding.

“I know it will have been difficult for you to plan care and learning for your children at home, and we really do appreciate your support with this at this time.”

Vulnerable children and those in year five and six can return to face-to-face learning at a site organised by the school for the remainder of the week, while devices will be provided by the council's Digital Device scheme to further aid their learning.

All other students will remain at home and continue to receive live lessons until they can return to school.

Cath McEvoy-Carr, Executive Director for Adult social care and children’s services, said: “Having reviewed the progress of works on site on Monday we had to make the decision to delay handover until Friday 17 September to ensure that when students and staff do return, they can do so safely and fully enjoy the facilities they are welcomed into.

"It is disappointing, and we know this will be frustrating for parents and carers.

"We also want to take this time to reassure parents, carers, staff and students that the schools are looking great. The classrooms and open learning spaces are going to provide so much more flexibility and opportunity for the students to learn and grow.

"We really cannot wait for pupils to see it and thank everyone for their continued patience."

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