A SCHOOL previously threatened with closure has finally been givenmoney to spend on a revamp – but only £2.5million.
The Deanes School, in Daws Heath Road, Thundersley, has been given the cash by Essex County Council to build a new reception area, a student services area for a pastoral support office, and an attendance office.
The main block will also be remodelled with new windows and a new roof. The building will also be rewired.
The money is a far cry from the £23million promised by County Hall for a complete rebuild, which was scrapped when the authority tried to close it due to a drop in pupil numbers.
Deanes headteacher, Jan Atkinson, hopes the money is the beginning of a better future for the school.
She said: “This will be the start of a whole new building project. The council had to make the building fit for purpose. In the past we were promised a new building. This is the start of remodelling stage by stage.”
Vice principal, Desi McKeown, said: “The remodelling of the reception and student services area will be carried out over the summer so it won’t affect anyone. We have a detailed programme, making sure disruption will be kept to a minimum.
“One of the issues parents had was the exterior of the building. On September 11, for our open day, work will have started. By the time Year 5 start in 2015, work will be complete.”
Up until May last year, County Hall was pursuing plans to co-locate Glenwood School, in Rushbottom Lane, Thundersley, with the Deanes in the new £23million building.
But those plans were scrapped in November last year when Ray Gooding, county councillor for education, announced plans to shut the school. That move has since been defeated following a campaign by pupils, parents and staff and backed by the Echo.
The school now hopes to move out of county council control and become an academy.
Campaigning parent, Sarah Raven, said: “It’s nowhere near what was promised and nowhere near the actual cost of the refurb for what is really needed. I think we’ve been really short-changed. We fought really hard, but it is like hitting a brick wall to get any more out of Essex County Council.”
Castle Point MP, Rebecca Harris, said: “This money is very welcome, even though it has been a long time coming. We are close to securing academy status for The Deanes and I hope this moneywill finally close the book on the failed closure last year.”