ESSEX County Council has announced its plans to close the Deanes School in Thundersley.

The decision follows a six week consultation which gathered views and evidence from pupils, parents, schools, teachers, borough and unitary councils and community groups.

Speaking about the decision Councillor Ray Gooding, Cabinet Member for Education said: “It was never going to be an easy decision to propose closure of the Deanes School but in making my decision I needed to take emotions out of the equation and focus firmly on the facts and figures which ultimately I believe make the school unviable.

“It is a fact that pupil numbers are declining across the area, it is a fact that the Deanes School is not the preferred local school when taking into account parental preferences, and it is also fact that schools are funded largely on a per pupil basis which means a declining roll will have a negative impact on a school’s budget and the quality of education provided.

“I have considered planned housing developments, predicted pupil intakes, birth rates and in-migration and I have grave concerns that the projected figures and trajectories do not add up to provide the yearly intake of 120 pupils which it is widely agreed the school needs to survive.

“In making my decision I have also considered a report by a Task and Finish Group, however I am disappointed that the report did not challenge any of the figures provided as I specifically requested and did not provide evidence on how the school’s viability could be achieved. In order to be completely transparent I’m asking for this report to be published today.

“The priority for me as Cabinet Member for Education is to maximise outcomes for young people and I believe this proposal will create a sustainable solution for secondary schooling across the district by securing resilience in terms of pupil numbers and standards of education. Surplus capacity will be removed and local pupils will be offered places in high performing schools and have the opportunity to perform better themselves as a result.

“I have personally spoken to the head teacher and explained my decision. We are committed to working closely with the school to ensure pupils are well served over the next three years.”