Devastated pupils at Sweyne Park School have paid a quiet tribute to their former headteacher Kate Spiller, who lost her fight against cancer.

Mrs Spiller, 53, had run the school since it opened in 1997.

She took early retirement for health reasons just two weeks ago.

Colleagues at the school praised her for her "inspirational leadership" and said she was a dynamic and committed headteacher.

Acting head Andy Hodgkinson said: "We held a special assembly yesterday to let all the pupils know what happened.

"They were incredibly respectful, very quiet and very reflective. It has been a terrible shock, she fought a very long and incredibly brave battle against cancer."

Mrs Spiller, who lived in Brentwood, leaves behind husband Geoff and two children.