PARENTS have shown their support for a high-achieving school - which says pupils are being penalised with poor facilities because they are in an affluent area.

Officials at Durham Johnston School, in Durham, said it is in dire need of new buildings and facilities.

The school is split into two sites, the upper site at Crossgate Moor and the lower at Whinney Hill.

Despite the school having to provide facilities for two sites from one pot of money, it said its biggest hurdle in attracting investment came from Government funding rules.

There are plans to eventually merge the two sites, which could take as long as 15 years.

But headteacher Richard Bloodworth said the situation was so dire, they could not wait that long.

He said: "The most recent site was laid out and constructed 50 years ago and the other one was constructed 70 years ago.

"The expectations of schools has changed significantly over that period of time, but our facilities haven't changed at all."

Mr Bloodworth said parents showed their strength of feeling at the annual parent's meeting, when the state of school buildings was put on the agenda.

He said normally they get about 12 parents to the meetings, but this time 270 attended and 80 sent their apologies.

Government rules give funding priority to schools in deprived areas.

Although half the pupils at Durham Johnston come from deprived wards, the school is not classed as being in a poor area.

Consequently, it missed out on a slice of the Government's £2.2bn fund for secondary school upgrade and renewal.

"The Government hasn't taken any notice of its own conditions survey of schools," said Mr Bloodworth.

"We would expect them to say, 'schools in deprived areas need all the support they can get,' and I certainly agree with that.

"But we would have thought they would also provide money for schools where the conditions are no longer acceptable. But the Government hasn't done that."

Both Durham County Council and Durham MP Gerry Steinberg are supporting the school and pressing the Government to relax its rules.