THE headteachers of five out of the seven secondary schools in Darlington have met to discuss the future of education in the town.

The headteachers of Hummersknott School and Language College, Carmel RC Technology College, Branksome School, Haughton Community School and the Education Village and Longfield School got together after the headteacher of Eastbourne Comprehensive stepped down.

Eamonn Farrar left Eastbourne with the mutual consent of governors.

He returned to Darlington's seventh secondary, Hurworth School, where he is helping the school pursue plans to expand as a foundation school at the expense of Eastbourne.

This plan goes against a local authority plan to bring Hurworth and Eastbourne schools together in a £25m academy on the edge of Darlington.

But yesterday the other five headteachers offered their support to Eastbourne, following Mr Farrar's departure.

He was replaced by deputy headteacher Keith Ruston, who becomes Eastbourne's fifth headteacher in just three years.

Keith Cotgrave, headteacher of Longfield, speaking on behalf of the others, said: "The headteachers are unanimous in offering any support they can to Eastbourne, the staff, pupils and community, over this difficult period.

"We are happy to support the Church of England as sponsors for the academy as we know their track record.

"The academy will ensure that all students within secondary schools in the local education authority will be given the opportunity to work in first class buildings fit for purpose in the 21st century."