STAFF and pupils at two Hyndburn secondary schools are celebrating after being awarded specialist college status.
Rhyddings High School in Oswaldtwistle has become a Business and Enterprise College while Norden High School in Rishton has won Sports College status.
The announcement was made yesterday by the Department for Education and Skills and it means that both schools will benefit from thousands of pounds in extra cash to develop their facilities.
The successful bids were the result of months of hard work by both schools, which had to raise £50,000 before they could be considered.
At least half of that money had to come from sponsorship by local businesses, with the remaining £25,000 coming from a range of fund-raising events. A detailed written plan also had to be submitted as part of the bid.
Norden headteacher Denise Parkinson said that they were delighted by the news - and she thanked the Observer for helping to raise the money needed by encouraging readers to get behind the school's Hyndburn 600 Appeal.
She added that they stood to gain half-a-million pounds in extra funding over the next five years. This would be put towards developing a special reso-urce centre that the whole community can use.
She said: "We're absolutely over the moon - it is wonderful news for the school and for the wider community. The support we have had from people has been fantastic and it means so much to us."
"While the focus will be on sport, it will be more about how sport increases achievement in all subject areas. We want it to be the driving force behind improving the school as a whole."
Barry Burke, headteacher at Rhyddings, said that they would receive £750,000 over four years, allowing them to buy hi-tech equipment for a learning resource centre currently being built in the school grounds.
This would also be open to local businesses and community groups, offering specialist resources for meetings and conferences.
He said: "We're going to encourage local business-people to work with our students, which will enrich the curriculum and make it more relevant to our pupils. In return, we will be providing those businesses with an opportunity to use the equipment available in the new building."
"We see it as a major new way of engaging with the community, which I am sure will be celebrating with us."
"The staff, governors and everyone else associated with the school are all delighted."
Three other Hyndburn schools have already been awarded specialist college status in recent years. The Hollins and St Christopher's are both Technology Colleges, while Mount Carmel is a Science College.