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Councillor Ray Gooding: We still think Deanes should close
THE county councillor in charge of education in Essex is still insisting the decision to shut the school was made in “the best educational interests” of pupils.
After seeing his decision overturned by a Government inspector, councillor Ray Gooding said he still stood by the closure decision.
He is also quite adamant Deanes will not be getting any of the £23million set aside in 2012 to rebuild the school.
Mr Gooding said: “Our decision to close Deanes School was always made with the best educational interests of pupils in mind, both now and in the future, and we stand by our commitment to ensuring all pupils receive the best education possible.
“The adjudicator has taken the decision to give the school a chance of survival and we will now work with it to manage this process.
“Officers at Essex County Council are extremely professional and while it is up to the school now to ensure it is viable, we will do whatever necessary to secure the future of the school.
“In response to the report, we have had conversations with the school about other options and we have always recognised the significant importance the school has in the community.
“The report clearly shows the processes we have gone through have been right and correct and we have really been pretty good in terms of calculating pupil numbers and growth in the Thundersley area, which was always a contentious issue.”
He reiterated there were no plans for the council to fund the rebuilding of the school, explaining: “We continue to believe the school is not viable. The issue about Deanes is it is not a small school. It has about 50 per cent extra places.
“The rebuilding represents a significant capital expenditure, and 600 pupils was a base level it would need to be suitable for rebuilding.
“This is something we need to discuss further, because the rebuilding is of major importance to Glenwood School, which needs new facilities.”
Mr Gooding said he did not feel the council had anything to learn from its handling of the closure process – regardless of the fact the first parents knew of closure plans was when they read about them in the Echo, while even Appleton and King John School parents were told before those at Deanes.
Mr Gooding added: “Frankly, I do not feel we have much to learn from this and I stand by our decision.
“We are sorry about the way the news came out, but it came out through your paper. It is something I am concerned about and I will be looking into it further.
“I am sure everyone in that area hates me, but what can you do?”