A COUNTY Durham school has won top marks for its commitment to the arts.

Consett Junior School, in Beechdale Road, Consett, is one of 203 schools in the UK to win an Artsmark Gold Award, announced yesterday.

The accolade, presented by the Arts Council of England, recognises the work of schools in providing pupils with opportunities in all artforms, from drama and music to literature, dance and sculpture.

The scheme also encourages schools to work with artists and art organisations.

David Yates, headmaster, said: "I am delighted that the Arts Council has recognised Consett Junior School's progressive, well-balanced arts education programme, which enables pupils to work with local artists."

The school impressed judges after forging links with schools in China. This year, every pupil has worked with a Chinese artist, local authors, aboriginal dancers and the Northern Ballet.

Musicians in the school's brass band have played concerts across the world, and have also performed with Northern Sinfonia and the Black Dyke Band.