Press release

Gateshead specialist arts college moves into brand new building

Students and teachers benefit from £4.4 million rebuild as part of the government’s Priority School Building Programme (PSBP).

This was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government


Hill Top Specialist Arts College in Gateshead had its official reopening ceremony today (28 November 2014), following a multimillion-pound rebuild.

The school’s existing dilapidated building has been completely rebuilt as part of the government’s £2.4 billion PSBP to address 260 of the schools in England in the worst condition.

Hill Top is a special school which has a strong specialism in the arts, gaining specialist arts college status in 2010. It is 1 of 32 schools being rebuilt across the North East of England under the PSBP - 5 school projects are already complete and are open, with 4 more currently under construction.

Thanks to the programme, pupils and staff are now benefiting from a new £4.4 million, fit-for-purpose rebuild comprising of specialist teaching areas, a new performance hall, sensory rooms and a post-16 facility.

Schools Minister David Laws said:

The official opening of the new building for Hill Top Specialist Arts College in Gateshead is a fantastic achievement. This is the fifth school in the North East to open as part of the Priority School Building Programme.

Delivering great new schools will help to build a stronger economy and a fairer society so that every young person can get on in life. Vital building work is taking place at schools in the worst state across the country. We are making excellent progress with 14 school buildings now complete and all 260 schools projects due for completion by the end of 2017.

I hope the new school facilities will provide an inspirational learning environment that will encourage every student to reach their full potential.

An event was held today to mark the official opening of the school. The rebuild was completed in just over 11 months. This was all made possible by a successful partnership between the school, Gateshead council, the Education Funding Agency (EFA) and the contractor Sir Robert McAlpine.

Becky Harrison, Executive Headteacher at Hill Top Specialist Arts College, said:

We are absolutely delighted with the new school build and feel the building will now truly reflect the high quality of teaching and learning, as well as further enhance it for pupils and staff. We know the new school will be a happy and healthy environment that will inspire all and further raise aspirations and achievement.

The new school enhances the opportunity for community use and we look forward to sharing this excellent provision with the local community, particularly as the landscaping is completed.

The government is determined to raise the standard of schools and the education they provide as part of its plan for education. The PSBP is building on the progress already made in delivering a more efficient, faster, less bureaucratic approach to building schools.

As of November 2014:

  • 14 PSBP schools have opened in new buildings
  • 59 schools are currently under construction
  • all 260 schools are due for completion by the end of 2017 - 2 years earlier than originally planned

Given the success of the PSBP, the government has announced a second phase of the programme, worth around £2 billion. Applications are currently being considered and successful applicants will be confirmed by the end of the year.

Notes to editors

  1. The PSBP is a centrally managed programme set up to address the condition of the schools most in need of urgent repair. Through the PSBP, 260 schools will be rebuilt or have their condition needs met.
  2. Over the course of this parliament, the government is allocating £5 billion to local authorities to support the provision of new school places and £2.8 billion for the maintenance of the school estate to meet the needs of maintained schools and academies. Over the spending review period, the total capital made available for investment in schools in England will be about £18 billion.
  3. Given the success of the PSBP so far, [in May 2014 the government announced a further £2 billion to address condition needs in some of the worst school buildings across the country( Applications are currently being considered and successful applicants will be confirmed by the end of the year.

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Published 28 November 2014