PLANS to merge two Basildon schools and turn them into a plush academy educating potential entrepreneurs of the future have been rubber-stamped.

Proposals to close Barstable and Chalvedon schools, and forge them into a multi-million pound educational centre of excellence, were given the official go-ahead by Essex County Council.

A public meeting, held at Barstable School, in Timberlog Lane, aimed to thrash out the issue. Organisers expected a lot of parents, business people and local residents to turn up and air their views. However, only one parent attended.

Alan Roach has been given the job of running the academy, a type of state school funded by private and public money.

He said: "We did expect a bigger turnout, but this goes to show parents aren't worried about what is being planned."

The £42million academy, is expected to open in September, 2008.

Academy schools have proved controversial, with critics worried private sponsors can have influence over the way they are run. However, Mr Roach said: "We will follow the same rules as everyone else."

Jerry Glazier, of the NUT, said the union was "totally opposed" to academies.

A second public meeting was held at Chalvedon School in Wickford Avenue last night.