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Former triple jumper and world record holder, Jonathan Edwards CBE, officially opened the Northern Education Trust Thorp Academy in Ryton today (26 September 2018) by unveiling a plaque to mark the occasion.

He toured the new facilities and met governors, teaching staff, students and executive principal, Andrew Jordon as well as the Chief Executive of Northern Education Trust, Rob Tarn.

Construction of the academy was undertaken in two phases by building contractor, Sir Robert McAlpine, with funding from the Government’s Priority Schools Building Programme Round 3.

The STEM building was officially opened in 2016 with the second phase, containing the main hall, purpose-built drama studio, sixth form facilities, library, classrooms and ICT suites, reaching practical completion in time for the new academic year in 2017, while site clearance and landscaping carried on until 2018.

Jonathan was keen to see the range of facilities at Thorp Academy, which are some of the best in the Borough of Gateshead, after visiting Gateshead regularly to train at the Gateshead Stadium while studying at Durham University.

He attended Thorp Academy in his role as ambassador TASS (Talented Athlete Scholarship Scheme), a Sport-England backed scheme which provides young athletes with the opportunity to get the very best out of their academic and sporting ability without having to make the hard decision and compromise between the two.

He particularly praised the sporting facilities at Thorp which operates its own Elite Performer Programme, providing a unique opportunity for young talented athletes to develop their sporting skills to a high level while continuing to follow their academic studies.

Jonathan said: “It is a pleasure and honour to be invited to officially open and mark the completion of Thorp Academy in Ryton. Having toured the building to see the new learning, teaching and sporting facilities on offer to students I am certainly very impressed.

“As a former athlete it is also particularly exciting to see first-hand the incredible sporting equipment and facilities being made available to students and to also hear about the Elite Performer programme, which will no doubt encourage and help aspiring young athletes and sports people to achieve their dreams.

“Talented young people should be encouraged to combine their studies with elite sport and I know as well as anyone just how difficult this can be.

“These impressive new facilities will go a long way to combine sporting potential with studies and enjoy the rewards that both can bring.” he added.

Thanking Jonathan for his visit and recognising how the new learning environment has enhanced opportunities for students, Chief Executive, Rob Tarn, commented: “We are very pleased that Jonathan could visit us today and see the tremendous work that is going on at the academy – both in the classroom and in a sporting context.

“Hearing about Jonathan’s dedication and commitment to succeed, Thorp Academy students can be confident that they will get every encouragement to achieve their personal best with the Northern Education Trust – whatever they choose to do.  We aim to enhance the life chances of all the children and young people in our care.  The new teaching and learning facilities available to them here provide the best possible starting point for launching their careers.

“I am personally delighted by the dramatic improvement with Thorp Academy’s results this summer for the third year running. The A-level results were once again above national average and the proportion of students achieving the new strong pass in English and maths GCSE increased by 16% from last year.  These results are testament to the energy and enthusiasm of both our students and staff.”

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