A COMPREHENSIVE school has failed in the first stage of its bid to become a business and enterprise centre.

Branksome School in Dar*ington was aiming to raise £50,000 to gain the specialist status this year.

But only just over half that amount has been generated, to the disappointment of staff who feel they were let down by local businesses.

Head teacher Linda Hartley said: "I am, as you can imagine, very saddened that local industry and business have failed to support us, particularly in light of the fact that this specialism would help to provide young people who are better equipped than most to bring relevant and up-to-date skills in the workplace."

The appeal managed to attract £26,000, which will now be retained in a special account until the school has a second chance to submit a bid to the Government in March.

The fund-raising campaign was launched in earnest earlier this year by Darlington MP Alan Milburn and the BBC Look North presenter John Lawrence.

Mrs Hartley said: "What we seek to provide, through our business and enterprise centre is a vibrant and necessary facility which will serve both the school and the local area."

It is hoped that the £50,000 target can eventually be reached through a mixture of donations from the public and local businesses.

Anyone who would like to lend their support is asked to contact Mrs Hartley on (01325) 380776