SCHOOLS in Newton Aycliffe have been awarded £200,000 to set up after-school clubs.

Every school in the town joined forces with the library, youth club and The Learning Shop - a community education establishment - to form a partnership to bid for the cash.

They won £203,120 from the New Opportunities Fund, and will be setting up study support groups from the start of the next school year in September.

The groups will cover a wide range of subjects, from computing and science to sports and arts, and even circus skills.

Marie Adamson, community development coordinator at Woodham Community Technology College, said: "If ourselves and Greenfield had applied as individual schools, we probably would have got something in the range of £14,000 each.

"So we thought it would be nice if we collaborated with all the primary schools, as well as the youth centre, library, and Learning Shop, to make a coordinated bid.

"That way, children from one school could take part in an activity at another school."

Michael Thornton, head- teacher of Greenfield Community and Arts College, said: "It's probably the first bid in the country from a whole town.

"This is a lovely project, demonstrating close collaborative working between all of the schools in Newton Aycliffe.

"It's nice that the schools are not in competition with each other, but working genuinely for the benefit of the children.

"The children were consulted at the outset about what sort of activities they would like to see provided after schools."

The library and youth centre will create study centres in their new buildings for young people who prefer alternative learning environments.

Everyone who takes part in the scheme will receive learning passports, detailing their progress and allowing them to set their own targets.

In addition, The Learning Shop in the town's Thames Centre, is developing an on-line centre for adult learning after a £112,000 grant from the New Opportunities Fund. It is due to open next month.