A GOVERNMENT minister will be in east Durham today to look at projects aimed at encouraging lifelong learning.

Ivan Lews, parliamentary under secretary of state for skills and vocational education, will begin his tour at the Walkers Crisps factory, in Peterlee.

He will look around the company's Learning Centre, which is the company's focal point for learning by employees for both self development and business needs.

Mr Lewis will also view projects at Shotton Hall School, East Durham Business Service and Wheatley Hill Community Aimhigh Centre.

Easington District Council's chief executive Janet Johnson said: "We are delighted Mr Lewis has agreed to visit Easington to witness some of the excellent projects ongoing in the district, which encourage our communities to learn together.

"By bringing businesses, schools and the local authority together in a partnership, everyone is working together to regenerate the district through learning and raising skill levels.''

Capital project manager at Shotton Hall School Ellen Foxton said: "We are excited to have the opportunity to demonstrate the evolution of our capital project to the minister. We have won awards and have been showcased regionally and nationally.

"In addition, the GCSE results at the school have improved year-on-year since the minister last visited us, from 25 per cent A to C grades in 2001 to 42 per cent in 2004."