DISTRAUGHT parents have vowed not to give up on their battle to save Deanes School.

Campaigners fighting to save the secondary, in Daws Heath Road, Thundersley, are calling on the support of MPs and government education officials to keep the gates open.

Families are angry Essex County Council announced plans to move forward with the proposed closure, despite a report from a cross-party group of councillors recommending the school stays open.

Zoe Cooper, 38, of Eversley Road, Benfleet, whose 15 year-old son Tommy is starting Year 11 today said: “This whole thing is a farce and it must all come down to money.

“We’re going to fight on. We have got quite a lot of money saved up from our fundraising, so we will use that to get a coach up to London and protest outside the Houses of Parliament. I’m sure if the education department knew what was going on they would be appalled. ”

Sarah Raven, 34, of the Deanes Action Group, was one of more than 50 campaigners who gathered outside the school to protest against the shock announcement yesterday.

She moved from Westcliff to her new home in Thundersley to ensure 12-year-old daughter Ceylan could follow in her own footsteps and attend Deanes.

Ms Raven said: “There is no stone we left unturned, we couldn’t possibly find any more information to prove why Deanes should stay open. The behaviour of the council is absolutely shocking.

“We have all had to explain to our kids they might have to start all over again in a new school. It is just too much on their young heads. There are a lot of raw emotions involved in this.

“We will take this to the next level. If they want a war, we are ready to fight.”

Eleven-year-old Luke Buston is one of the newYear 7 intake starting at Deanes today.

Mum Joe, 44, of Hart Road, Thundersley, said: “I’m absolutely devastated. Luke has special needs, but Deanes has been so accepting of him. It’s not only in our catchment area, but it’s the right school for him because it is such an inclusive place.

“I’m not going to rest until Deanes is saved and if it does close I’m not going to rest until the people responsible for this leave the council.”

Rebecca Harris, MP for Castle Point, has already raised the school’s plight in the Houses of Parliament after securing a oneon- one meeting with David Laws, minister for schools.

She said: “I am devastated.

Having read the report, I was quietly confident Deanes would stay open. The decision seems to be based on assumptions rather than findings. Deanes is a really popular school. It’s had an unexpected drop in pupil numbers recently, but that is because parents were waiting for the rebuild.

“We will carry on fighting this.”