THE head of the troubled Basildon Academies believes things are turning around – and she is confident many of the 1,500 empty places will soon be filled.

Statistics revealed by the Echo earlier this month showed there were 1,881 empty secondary school places in Basildon, with 1,501 of those places at the two academies.

The £50million schools, which were formed when Chalvedon and Barstable schools merged in 2009, were deemed to be failing by Ofsted in March 2012.

However, the Lower Academy, in Timberlog Close, Basildon, was taken out of special measures, Oftsed’s worst inspection rating, in October.

Inspectors then visited the Upper Academy, in Wickford Avenue, Pitsea, earlier this month and hopes are now high it too will be lifted out of special measures early in the new year.

Bev Bell, executive principal of the academies, who joined the schools after they fell into special measures, is quietly confident things are turning around.

She said: “When the schools went into special measures, parents understandably wanted to remove their children.

“But it has been a fantastic year.

“Exam results went up and since September, I have had 50 mid-term applications and parents knocking on my door to send their children here.

“So the empty spaces are not a concern.

“I think parents are having their faith restored in the schools.

“We’ve had visits from parents who had never even considered sending their children here. I am very confident our numbers will go up.”

Mrs Bell added: “The recent inspection at the Upper Academy was very good, and while I can’t say anything official until the report comes out in January, I am very confident the outcome will be good. I never doubted the capacity of the school to improve.”

Poor education standards in the borough are feared to be the cause of a mass exodus of students, as the Echo also revealed earlier this month how five of the nine secondary schools in the borough were ranked satisfactory or lower by Ofsted.