A NEW skills academy could be created for teenagers who are 'not flourishing' in mainstream education.

Public consultation has began into plans for a new specialist school in County Durham.

Durham Gateway Academy has been proposed for young people from across the county who would benefit from practical, skills-based learning.

If it gets the go ahead from the Department for Education, the 120-place school would open on Aycliffe Business Park– adjacent to the existing South West Durham Training facility– in spring 2020.

Proposers say its curriculum would combine academic and vocational learning in subjects like engineering, construction, welding, plumbing and electrical installations, catering, sport, childcare, hairdressing and beauty therapy with social, life and employability skills.

The Academy would be open to 13 to 16-year-olds, including those at risk of exclusion, and all places would be commissioned by schools, academies or local authorities so it would not compete with other schools.

The Academy is proposed by Gateway North Academy Trust and the sponsor is Bishop Auckland College.

Pamela Petty, chair of the Gateway North Academy Trust Board, said: “A key strength of the vision for Durham Gateway Academy is its potential to accelerate the progress of its students through vocational routes to employment.

“Combined with well-established employer links for work placements and apprenticeships in a wide range of industries, this unique learning offer would provide a springboard to employment and bright futures for the Academy’s students.”

An eight week public consultation runs until Friday, August 17 and the Trust wants to hear from potential parents and students, representatives of schools and local authorities, businesses and business forums, residents, community groups, and the County Durham and Darlington MPs.

Drop-in sessions will be held at the proposed site on Wednesday, July 4, 6pm to 7.30pm; Saturday, July 14, 10am to 11.30am; and Wednesday, July 18, 10am to 11.30am, and will include a tour of the building which would be developed.

To complete an online questionnaire or register to attend a consultation event visit durhamgatewayacademy.com or email saffron.ridley@bacoll.ac.uk.