DEANES School has been saved after Government officers ruled against Essex County Council’s plans to shut it.
The future of the school in Daws Heath Road, Thundersley, is now secure after inspectors from the Office of School Adjudicator ruled it should remain open.
Overjoyed headteacher Jan Atkinson made the announcement to a packed school assembly at about noon yesterday, shouting “we won!” to more than 600 cheering pupils, teachers and staff.
The news means the end to a gruelling nine-month campaign to spare it from the axe, which has seen numerous protests and public meetings as well as objections from more than 7,000 parents and pupils, as well as Castle Point, Basildon and Southend Councils.
Prospective pupils will now once again be able to apply to go to the school.
Mrs Atkinson, holding back tears, said: “I am absolutely overwhelmed and delighted with the news. They had to read it out to me four times because I just couldn’t believe it. The school has always been worth fighting for, but for me this news really means this long battle since May was absolutely right. I think the Echo has made a massive difference to our campaign.
“Now it means all the parents who were told to delete us from their choices can now send their children to the Deanes School.
We are open in our right and here to stay.”
It is the latest major boost to the school and comes just a month after deputy education minister Lord Nash said he was seriously considering plans for the Deanes to become a joint academy with the Billericay School.
Mrs Atkinson said it is vital the school still pursues academy status to take them out of Essex County Council’s control.
She said: “I think we will have to have a dialogue with the Department of Education about the next steps we need to take.
“We are still waiting for the final outcome of our academy status, but this will help a great deal with our application.
“The council thought about closing the school about 20 years ago, so we need to be independent from the local authority.
“But we are secure, this decision can’t be overturned.”
In a letter to the school, the adjudicator said: “Once a determination is made and published, neither the adjudicator nor anyone else can make changes to the decision.
“In legal terms the adjudicator is ‘functus officio’ and has no power to review or comment on his decision. The only route of appeal against this decision is by a judicial review.”
CAMPAIGNERS who have banged the Deanes drum for almost a year have breathed a sigh of relief after they won the fight to keep it open.
They have now called on senior education figures at County Hall to resign, including cabinet member Ray Gooding who was determined to see the school closed.
Sarah Raven, 34, of Thundersley, has her daughter Ceylan-Musa in Year 8 at the the school.
She said: “How does County Hall like its eggs? Scrambled all over its face?
“I have got no faith in the council now, after the corruption and lies put forward by education officers there and considering the damage Ray Gooding has done to students, he should jog on.
“The only way he and Tim Coulson can improve the reputation of the county council is for them to hold up their hands, admit they got it wrong, and resign.”
Chris Hurrell, 29, of Newton Park, in Thundersley, is an ex-pupil of the school and set up a campaign group on Facebook, also organising several protests.
He said: “I’m delighted that common sense has prevailed, but I’m disappointed about the amount of damage that Ray Gooding has caused.
“I’ve had a massive loss of faith in County Hall after this.
“They put a price of kids which is wrong.”