The Longbenton Voluntary Aided Schools campus will house two schools – St Stephen’s RC Primary and St Bartholomew’s Church of England Primary.
Children from both schools were invited to a special blessing and ceremony where they helped perform the official turf cutting alongside council chairman Cllr Janet Hunter, and cabinet member for children, young people and learning, Cllr Ian Grayson.
Kier is building the campus on the former Goathland Primary School site in Longbenton. Both new schools will retain their individual identities and remain two distinct and separate schools with their own registration, faith and ethos.
Cllr Grayson said: “This is an exciting and long-awaited day and I am delighted and honoured to be helping the children cut the first piece of ground.
“This is a first for North Tyneside. We are building two fantastic new primary schools in one state-of-the-art building with bright, modern classrooms, a community building and extensive outdoor facilities. The children will get the best possible chance to learn and achieve their full potential, while teachers will have the best possible environment in which to deliver the first-class educational opportunities our children deserve.
“This is a brilliant opportunity and I can’t wait for the building work to be finished and the new schools to be open in September next year.”
The event was also attended by the Elected Mayor Norma Redfearn, local councillors, head teachers, teachers, church officials and representatives from Kier Construction.
Mrs Redfearn said: “This symbolic ceremony marks the start of the work and who better to get it under way than the children themselves. They are our VIPs – very important pupils – who are such enthusiastic and wonderful ambassadors for their schools.”
Steve Lynn, Kier Construction project manager, added: “We are delighted to be involved with this innovative project, which sees two high quality schools housed under one roof benefitting from shared efficiencies and savings. It is satisfying to get on site and make a start on what will be a fantastic facility.”