PUPILS at a Darlington academy who are set to benefit from the support of a multi-million pound Government initiative have been visited by a Parliamentary Lord.

Under Secretary of State for the School System Lord Theodore Agnew was given a tour of Haughton Academy, part of the Education Village Academy Trust (EVAT) and one of 30 North-East schools identified in the Opportunity North East Vision initiative.

The £24m Government-led programme aims to improve secondary school standards and raise pupils’ aspirations.

Lord Agnew, who was escorted by Year 10 pupils Bethany Wanless and Bailey Whitley, said: “School improvement journeys take considerable effort, but with the right ethos and strong leadership, it can be the most rewarding time for an academy trust.

“I’m delighted that Haughton Academy is part of our Opportunity North East programme, putting them at the forefront of our plans to drive up academic standards, boost social mobility and raise aspirations for children in the North-East.

“I look forward to seeing continued improvements and hearing how the trust is supporting us to make sure more people leave schools in the North-East with the qualifications and skills they are capable of achieving.”

Meeting with academy principal Jonathan Lumb, EVAT chief executive Mike Butler and interim director of Academies Regional Delivery Group North Katherine Cowell, the minister learnt of the enhanced opportunities available for students and staff with the proposed merger of EVAT with the Endeavour Academies Trust, Middlesbrough.

He was also told about plans fora new all-weather sports pitch at the Education Village for children and young people from across the Trust, partner schools and the wider community.

Mr Butler added: “It was an honour and a privilege for Haughton Academy to have been selected for a visit by Lord Agnew and it was an absolute pleasure to be able to show him the impact to date of the strong leadership which is delivering sustainable school improvement."