A MULTI-MILLION pound new school has hosted its first lessons.

Durham Johnston School, in Durham, has been rebuilt at a cost of £23.8m.

The school’s year seven and eight pupils, who currently study at Whinney Hill, will join older pupils across the city at Crossgate Moor in September.

Classes for year nine, ten and 11 pupils began at the new facilities on Wednesday, following the Easter break.

Emma Robson, 13, the youngest pupil in year nine, was the first to cross the threshold, echoing events from 1901 when Lydia Pearson, the school’s youngest pupil at that time, opened a previous facility.

Headteacher Carolyn Roberts said: “Students have had a great day, very pleased with everything and articulating their gratitude at the investment made in them.

“They enjoy the light and space very much, and especially the hygienic modern toilets and landscaped yards.

“For myself, the school is very much more than a building. I think we are very fortunate indeed.

“Having the right physical circumstances in which to live and grow demonstrates the value we place on our young people.

“It’s lovely not to have to apologise for our cold, damp and crowded facilities any more.”

Durham Johnston is the first school in County Durham to benefit from the Government’s Building Schools for the Future programme, which will see every secondary school in the county rebuilt or upgraded over the next few years.

On Thursday of last week, Coun Claire Vasey, Durham County Council’s cabinet member for children and young people’s services, and Roberta Blackman-Woods, the MP for Durham City, were allowed a sneak preview.

Coun Vasey said: “A great deal of effort and attention to detail has gone into ensuring the new Durham Johnston School was ready on time and to a standard that the staff and students deserve.

“This is an exceptional school building and I am sure students will enjoy and be inspired by it.”

Ms Roberts said: “Our lovely building marks the start of a new chapter in our history and will allow us to go from strength to strength.

“We are delighted and excited to be entering this new phase in our history.”