AN east Durham comprehensive school is celebrating being awarded Special Status in the Performing Arts.

Shotton Hall School in Peterlee has granted the new designation, as reported in The Northern Echo yesterday.

Headteacher Ian Mowbray was delighted with the announcement, which will see a significant increase in the school's budget during the next four years.

The status will also allow the school to develop its already considerable strengths across a number of curricular areas.

Mr Mowbray said: "I am absolutely delighted that the school has been recognised in this way. The status is recognition of the hard work and commitment of the staff and students.

"The extra funding will enable us to continue to develop our community profile, and will also allow us to develop an extension to the main hall which will become a fully fitted dance studio.''

He added: "At Shotton Hall School we believe in the power of the arts to help raise the self-esteem and confidence of young people.

"This latest recognition, along with our selection to be part of the Creative Partnerships scheme, gives us a golden opportunity to enhance arts provision and make a real difference in this part of east Durham."