THE Firthmoor estate in Darlington celebrated an historic moment yesterday, with the opening of its new school.

Children took part in a short procession from the old Firthmoor Primary School to the new building, on the other side of Highmoor Road, as it opened its doors.

The school, which can accommodate 300 pupils and 29 nursery children, was built after one of the old buildings flooded during torrential rain two years ago.

Because the infants' buildings were put out of action permanently, all the nursery, infants and junior children had to squeeze into the one remaining building, which became badly overcrowded.

The new school is the first constructed by Darlington Borough Council since it became a unitary authority.

It is also the first new building to be completed as part of the regeneration of the council estate, where a large number of houses have been demolished to make way for new homes.

A community centre will be built over the next year.

Yesterday, dozens of parents and dignitaries packed into the hall at the new school, where a prayer of dedication for the building was read by Bernard Nixon, the architect who designed it.

Headteacher Andrena Cabourn said: "It is really exciting. This is really important for the estate, because it is the first major building as part of the regeneration."

The new building is equipped with a host of innovations, including interactive whiteboards in every classroom and an information technology suite.

It is also the first school in the borough to have drinking fountains in every classroom, because research shows that children who drink water regularly, perform better academically.

There is a library, music and art studio, a large hall and excellent sports facilities, and the school will be open to the wider community to promote lifelong learning.