Work to replace an outdated County Durham school with a new state-of-the-art facility is now underway.

The new building will enable Bishop Barrington School in Woodhouse Lane, Bishop Auckland, to increase its pupil roll from 790 to 900.

It is being funded through phase 2 of the government’s Priority School Buildings Programme, following a successful application by Durham County Council.

The authority is providing an additional £3.6 million towards the project, which will also see the demolition of the school’s three existing blocks. The buildings are in a poor condition and would require significant investment in order to bring them up to an acceptable standard for the future.

Michael Bennett, headteacher at Bishop Barrington School, said “The new building will be one that is fit for 21st Century learning and one that befits the ethos of Bishop Barrington – to provide an inspiring, engaging and caring environment where all students can flourish and be their best.

“Our staff are passionate about providing the very best for our students. We are incredibly grateful for all of the hard work that has gone into making our new school a reality.”

Pupils and staff from the school were joined at a ceremony marking the start of construction on the facility, by Cllr Olwyn Gunn, Durham County Council’s Cabinet member for children and young people’s services.

Cllr Gunn said: “The school is currently split across three teaching blocks, all of which have become outdated and in need of significant investment. We were, therefore, incredibly pleased when we heard that our bid for funding to develop a new school building had been accepted.

“The new teaching block will provide an excellent learning environment for pupils and staff and it is very clear how excited everyone is about the project. I’m very much looking forward to seeing the end result.”

James Stuart-Mills, Department for Education Project Director for Bishop Barrington School, said: “We are delighted with the successful start to the Priority School Buildings Programme project at Bishop Barrington. This is a great project which will benefit pupils in Bishop Auckland for years to come.”

The first phase of the project will see the new teaching block constructed on the existing playground.

Once the new school has opened in September 2020, work will begin to demolish the current buildings and landscape the site.