Growing reputation of 'super school' partnership.
Schools' Commissioner Sir Bruce Liddington cast his expert eye over the groundbreaking work of the 3,000-pupil Ashington Learning Partnership Trust - which was one of the first 12 of its kind in the country to be established just over a year ago.
He visited three of the five schools involved in the trust during a special "deep learning" day to see examples of best practice in getting students of all ages to work together.
Its strategic head, Ashington High School headteacher Ken Tonge, will travel to the House of Commons to talk about its partnership approach at a Parliamentary select committee.
The trust - which comprises Ashington High, Bothal and Hirst Park Middle and Wansbeck and Central First Schools - has developed new curriculum structures and ways of delivering education which aim to reduce the problems of transferring between schools.
Sir Bruce, the senior civil servant at the Department for Children, Schools and Families, talked to students, staff and governors at three of the schools to find out how the trust status is used to form a single, all-age learning organisation.
His visit comes came nine months after the independent Children's Commissioner, Sir Al Aynsley Green, paid a similar visit and praised its work with young people.
Sir Bruce saw at first hand some examples of how pupils and staff from all five schools meet in mixed-age learning sessions. The event included dance workshops, festivals of modern languages, sports activities taught in foreign languages and science experiments.
Mr Tonge said: "It's a great honour to have Sir Bruce take time out of his busy schedule to visit us. He has heard about our growing reputation for innovation in education, about the very special all-age partnership we have created and has come to see first-hand how we are using our trust status to make a difference."
The Ashington trust was set up as part of the Government's Schools Pathfinder Project. It aims to drive up educational standards by creating a continuous institution and by using the expertise of partners including Northumbria University, Northumberland College and the Wansbeck Business Forum.