FROM its nurseries to its universities, education in the North East comes top of its class.
The region is home to some of the country’s most forward-thinking and innovative learning establishments, which are renowned across the globe.
Northumbria University, in Newcastle, is fully-equipped with state- of-the-art facilities, leading to a host of design accolades.
Its award-winning City Campus East in New Bridge Street is one of the most iconic and eco-friendly buildings in the city.
The £70m landmark opened in 2007 and houses the university’s design, law and business students.
Its “green” features include rain harvesters to collect water, solar panels on the roof, and computerised heating and lighting sensors to ensure power is only used when rooms are occupied.
The university’s newest project is its £30m Sports Central complex, which opened to the public this month.
The facility is available to the community, but also hopes to support the region’s schools and colleges in harnessing the talents of young athletes, as well as future Olympians.
Just a stone’s throw away, Newcastle University is a leading light in a number of disciplines, but especially science.
This summer it launched a £250,000 Outreach Lab, specifically designed to help A-level chemistry students from across the region to reach their full potential.
The lab is the only one of its kind in the region and is supported by leading academics in the university’s School of Chemistry.
It offers young people an insight into higher education with the aim of encouraging more to consider a science-based career. Newcastle was named as one of six UK Science Cities in 2005 largely in recognition of the world-class research taking place at the university, and the potential of its science industry.
The university is already leading the way with its studies into sustainability, aging and stem cells – the latter being undertaken at Newcastle’s Centre for Life.
Meanwhile, it may be the region’s oldest university, but Durham cannot be accused of being stuck in the past.
The elite institution has just begun work on its new £48m development, due to be completed by September 2012.
The development will house a major library extension, a new law school and a student services building to be known as the Palatine Centre.
The project is a major step forward in the university’s long-term strategy to provide sustainable and world-class facilities in line with its standing as a top-five UK university. Its buildings in Durham City and at Stockton form one of the most complex and important university estates in the world. There are 63 Grade I and II listed buildings and the UNESCO World Heritage Site which is owned jointly with Durham Cathedral.
In total, the university’s planned works across the estate in the next three years represent an investment in the regional economy of more than £55m.
On Wearside, Sunderland University is home to one of the UK’s most advanced media centres, with industry-standard facilities for students in journalism, television, radio and film.
Last year, £1.5m was spent on The David Puttnam Media Centre, converting the studios to high definition, and it also boasts a purpose-built cinema.
More than £130m will have been spent on the university’s two campuses, the Sir Tom Cowie Campus and the City Campus, by next year.
Future is bright for North East students
THE North East is also a front-runner for Trust schools, with these successfully running in County Durham, Northumberland and Tyneside.
Trust schools have greater freedom than other state-run schools and one of the first to be established was Monkseaton High in North Tyneside.
This secondary school is renowned nationally for its pioneering initiatives, which include the eight-minute lesson, where students alternate classroom-based work with exercise, and research into why the school day should start later for teenagers.
The school also recently benefited from a £20m rebuild, which features futuristic and environmentally-friendly “wind catches” on the roof, which regulate the air temperature.
A further jewel in the crown for North East education is that our special schools rank amongst the best in the country.
Collingwood School and Media Arts College in Morpeth, Northumberland, has been rated “outstanding” by Ofsted in its last two inspections.
And Sir Charles Parsons School and Science College in Newcastle also achieved an outstanding report, following its latest Ofsted visit in June.
Meanwhile, February this year saw the launch of the North East Apprenticeship Company (NEAC), which aims to create hundreds of new jobs by making it easier for regional companies to employ apprentices.
The NEAC, which has been jointly created by Gateshead Council and Gateshead College, aims are to reduce youth unemployment, tackle the region’s skills gap and create more than 1,000 new apprenticeships in the next two years.
With excellence in the classrooms and on the sports field, together with exciting plans for the years ahead, the future is looking bright for North East students.