Deanes School in Thundersley 'should stay open'

Protesters in Chelmsford
Image caption Campaigners opposed to the closure have previously protested outside council offices

A school deemed "unviable" by Essex County Council should stay open, an independent adjudicator has decided.

In November the county council decided to shut the Deanes School in Thundersley.

But the Office of the Schools Adjudicator has recommended the school not be closed.

Essex County Council said although it still thought the school was not viable it would work with the adjudicator to support "this process".

The Conservative-led authority said it wanted to close the school because of a falling demand for pupil places.

It said closing the school, rated "good" by Ofsted, would cost up to £6.87m and the cost of replacing it with a smaller school would cost £10.5m.

Parents and pupils have campaigned against the closure proposals.

'Educational interests'

Adjudicator David Lennard Jones found the council had "failed to engage with the school" about alternatives and instead presented it with "the decision that had been made".

He also said that after meeting with the public, the council had written to him saying it had "committed to give £4m to increase the capacity of the two neighbouring schools".

Mr Lennard Jones said he had not taken this into account because it did not form part of the appeal.

Ray Gooding, the council's cabinet member for education, said the authority was "pleased" the adjudicator agreed with it about falling pupil roll numbers.

"Our decision to close the Deanes School was always made with the best educational interests of pupils in mind, both now and in the future," said Mr Gooding.

"And we stand by our commitment to ensuring all pupils receive the best education possible."

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