STUDENTS from a children's home in Newton Aycliffe have battled their way through to the regional final of a science competition.

Children from the secure unit in Aycliffe Young People's Centre will be up against five other schools in the Science Race 2001 today.

The pupils won through the first round of the online quiz last week, and will be logging on for the regional final this afternoon.

The education unit at the centre includes 14 children taking GCSE science.

A team of seven were given a half-hour slot on the Internet, where they had to answer 20 questions.

Scoring was a combination of correct answers and the time taken, making it a test of accuracy and speed.

Pupils and staff gathered around the computer terminal later in the day to check how they had done, and were delighted to learn they had made it to the last six.

Teacher Liz Moore said: "The kids have been working really hard. I'm very proud of them for getting this far and the kids are all very pleased and proud of themselves.

"It's really good for them because they are kids who have been taken out of school and into the home. They haven't been to school for a long time, so they feel really good about this."

Competition will be tough. The other finalists are last year's winners St Cuthbert's High School in Newcastle, La Sagesse, Tyne and Wear, Park View School, Durham, St Patrick's RC Comprehensive, Cleveland, and St Bede's School, County Durham.