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School places shortfall fear if Deanes closes
PROSPECTIVE secondary school pupils in Thundersley cannot be guaranteed a place at two neighbouring schools if the Deanes shuts, it has been claimed.
Concerns have been raised Castle Point could suffer a major shortfall in places if the school, in Daws Heath Road, Thundersley, closes from 2016.
Essex County Council reassured worried parents throughout the consultation on the proposed closure there were sufficient places at King John School, in Thundersley, and the Appleton School, in Benfleet, as both would expand their rolls by 30 pupils a year.
Now, it has been revealed Education Secretary Michael Gove refused to grant the schools permission to add the Deanes catchment area to their admission zones.
A letter from a county council officer to a Deanes’ parent said: “The Appleton and the King John schools had applied to add the Deanes priority admission area to their respective priority admissions areas for September, 2014.
“The Secretary of State did not agree to this.
“This is unfortunate, but it is expected any parents living in that area who apply for both schools will secure a place at one unless a higher preference is offered.”
However, staff at the Deanes argued it was a fundamental flaw of the whole consultation.
Desi McKeown, assistant headteacher, said: “Right the way through the process, the county council argued there would definitely be sufficient places at the two schools, but from this letter it would seem this is not definite.
“So, prospective students in the Deanes’ catchment area will not be guaranteed a place at a local school.”
However, a county council spokesman said: “The county council secured the agreement of Appleton and King John schools to admit 30 additional pupils each for Year 7 in September 2014, if a final decision to close the Deanes is taken.
“The two schools have also committed to carrying out the necessary processes to amend their arrangements for 2015/16 admissions to incorporate the current Deanes catchment area into their catchment areas.
“Children currently inYears 7 and 8 at the Deanes are guaranteed a place (on application) at Appleton or King John to commence their studies, should the Deanes close.
“In respect of Year 7 admissions for September 2014, Appleton and King John did apply to modify their catchment areas to includes the Deanes area.
“However, the Secretary of State did not agree to this, as a final decision on the future of the Deanes had yet to be made and was not due to be made prior to the application period.
“That said, considering the additional 60 places secured, along with the number and pattern of expected applications, it is anticipated if the Deanes was to close, children currently in Year 6 in the Deanes’ catchment area will be able to obtain a place at Appleton or King John for next September if an application is made for both schools.’’
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