It’s hoped a new specialist school will open in Newton Aycliffe within the next two years.
As revealed on Aycliffe Today in June, the Durham Gateway Academy has been proposed for young people from across the county who are not flourishing in mainstream secondary education but would thrive in a setting offering practical, skills-based learning.
If it gets the go ahead, it would be based in the Aycliffe Business Park adjacent to the existing South West Durham Training facility, and would boast a unique curriculum, integrating academic and vocational learning with the development of social, life and employability skills
It’s hoped the academy will open this October – initially with 40 students at Bishop Auckland College – before opening fully in Aycliffe in 2020.
Pamela Petty, chair of the Gateway North Academy Trust Board, told Aycliffe Today: “It will be an alternative provision school for 13-16-year-olds who maybe aren’t thriving in mainstream education.
“Students will still do Maths, English and Science, but once they’ve cracked the core subjects they’ll have access to vocational subjects, which will hopefully then give them a route into work or alternative opportunities.
“We’ll be taking 40 students into Bishop Auckland college initially, but ultimately in the Spring of 2020 we’ll open at South West Durham Training, and we’ll be up to the full number of students, 120, by 2021.”
A unique alternative provision free school, Durham Gateway Academy would offer a clear route towards apprenticeships and employment.
Students would be supported to develop key employability skills including preparing applications and CVs, conducting interviews, punctuality, communication skills, self- confidence and social skills.
They would also have a supported internship or work placement in an industry related to the selected vocational study option.
Other extra-curricular activities would include health and fitness sessions, team-building exercises such as outward-bound and team sports, educational visits, volunteering opportunities and mentoring from business coaches.
All places at Durham Gateway Academy would have to be commissioned by other schools and academies within County Durham or local authorities; the Academy would not operate in competition with existing providers.
The proposer of the Academy is Gateway North Academy Trust and the sponsor is Bishop Auckland College, which has been providing vocational education for 60 years.
An eight-week public consultation into the proposed Academy is due to end on Friday August 17, and has aimed to provide opportunities for feedback and suggestions on how best to set up and operate the new school.