SUPPORTERS of a controversial academy have said they hope to work with governors from one of the threatened schools to find a common way forward.

The group, which is backing plans for the academy in Darlington, held its first meeting this week and has stressed it wants to work together with Hurworth School.

Darlington Borough Council hopes to merge Hurworth and Eastbourne Schools into the £25m city academy.

The governing body of Hurworth is fighting the plans, and is seeking foundation status in an attempt to keep the school open.

Maureen Horton, who is leading the academy support group, said: "We're trying to find a way of consulting with the governors of Hurworth, so that we can work together.

"We've got no problem with them going for foundation status.

"What we do have is a problem with is if they go for foundation status with expansion.

"If they do that, the children in this area will be disadvantaged."

The group is trying to enlist the support of local residents and is putting a petition supporting the academy around local newsagents, post offices and the feeder schools.

It is hoping that by consulting with the governors at Hurworth, they can try to allay some of their fears.

Mrs Horton added: "We want them to see that it's not the big bad wolf, there's some really good stuff going on if we could work together.

"We're trying to work towards the actual consultation process.

"A lot of people are making decisions before it has even gone ahead, they should be making decisions at the end of the consultation period.

"The thought of turning down the opportunity to get £25m into the school is anathema to me."

Sam Jameson, the chair of Hurworth governors, said: "We were aware this group had been set up and we understand their reasons and they understand ours.

"But as far as Hurworth is concerned, we just don't want to go into the academy, so I wonder whether getting round a table will work.

"But we certainly don't want a them and us situation."

For more information about the academy support group contact Mrs Horton on (01325) 281061 or Dave Preston on (01325) 462979.