A SCHEME which would see Darlington's brightest and best teachers lent out to struggling schools could be launched within a year.

The idea of the project - the first of its kind - is to share top staff among the town's seven secondary schools to drive up standards.

Darlington performs well at A-level, but has recently been below the national average at GCSE - a problem which education bosses want to address.

Earlier this year, the local authority recruited Eamonn Farrar as a schools czar, or superhead, to improve standards.

He is putting together the project, called the Darlington education improvement partnership, and hopes to have it running by next September.

The idea is to find the areas that are thriving in the town's seven secondary schools - and then send in the department head, teacher or team into schools which may be struggling in a particular subject.

As headteacher of Hurworth School, Mr Farrar, transformed it into one of the best in the country.

He said: "We are negotiating with headteachers in Darlington about this at the moment. The early signs are that they support this.

"It would be the first scheme in the country to go whole-scale using current teachers.

"We have provided help before but this is about designing a service which ensures all of the town's schools make the progress we need of them so we don't have one top-performing school and another at the bottom."

Mr Farrar is currently acting headteacher at Eastbourne Comprehensive, following the suspension of headteacher Karen Pemberton.

In recent weeks, he has also been working alongside Howard Gilfillan, the headteacher of Branksome School, which was given the worst possible rating by inspectors in February, and was placed in special measures.

The improvement partnership is separate, and additional, to a school improvement service based at the town hall.

Mr Farrar said: "We have had some huge successes in Darlington but also some failures and that is not good enough for the children here.

"At the moment, we are focusing on secondaries because they have the worst problems, but primaries may want to get involved if they see it working."