Proposals to create a two-tier education system in part of Ashington have been approved.
Earlier this year the Ashington Learning Partnership (ALP) announced plans to move to a two-tier structure.
Under the initiative, both Hirst Park and Ashington Bothal middle schools would close in August 2015 while the age range would be extended to 11 to 18 years for Ashington High School.
The age ranges would also be extended for Ashington Central and Ashington Wansbeck first schools to cater for children up to the age of 11.
And on Tuesday, Northumberland County Council’s policy board approved the plans including a multi-million investment at the high school.
An ALP spokesman said: “We consider this to be in the long-term interests of the town’s young people and indeed of our local economy as we prepare our pupils for the modern world of work.
“A two-tier system is integral to our commitment to deliver an outstanding level of education. We will manage this process to ensure a smooth transition for pupils, their families and school staff in time for the 2015-16 academic year.
“A main contractor will shortly be appointed to deliver the £3m plus investment in new school facilities and we expect to have full details available in the new year.”