A PIONEERING school construction project has won a top prize in a national competition.

Springwell Dene School, in Sunderland, won second prize in the National Quality in Construction Awards in the category for a small building project successfully demonstrating collaborative working.

The award is in recognition of the hard work of pupils, staff and Sunderland Local Education Authority and contractors Clugston in a £2m project to redevelop school buildings in Swindon Road.

The project was one of four pilot schemes approved by the city council in June to examine the benefits of partnerships with private construction companies.

The work on the school was completed within budget, ahead of schedule and with no defects and included savings of £60,000, part of which will help provide new furniture and equipment.

The former primary school buildings, first commissioned in 1949, now provide facilities for 65 pupils with special needs, as well as specialist classrooms and sports pitches for use by the whole community.

Headteacher Dorothy Mitchell said: "Staff and students are thoroughly enjoying the new facilities.

"The school is open for community use four nights a week with local residents, young and old, holding meetings here, using the facilities and attending various activities."

The facilities include a sports hall and all-weather pitch, motor vehicle workshop, and specialised classrooms for science, art and food technology.

The award was promoted by the Department of Trade and Industry and sponsored by Construction News.