A SCHOOL is undertaking a consultation to increase its admission intake by a whole classroom per year.

Meetings have been taking place between Essex County Council and Ormiston Academies Trust, the group which runs Ormiston Rivers in Burnham, over recent months.

To satisfy the future requirements for secondary school places defined within Essex county’s ten-year plan, the academy is asking parents and staff if the school should increase capacity by an additional 30 pupils.

In a letter, principal Emma Baker said: “The trustees see the proposed expansion of the school as an opportunity to meet the increasing demand for places within the local area, whilst continuing to offer an excellent education to all students.

“Ormiston Rivers Academy currently has a published admissions number into Year 7 of 180.

“The proposed expansion would be fully funded by Essex County Council and is proposed to be completed in time for the September 2023 academic year.

“Following the completion of these works, an additional 30 student places per year would be created, allowing us to admit an extra form of entry into Year 7.”

The consultation runs until April 16, after which the comments will be submitted to the Department of Education which will have the final say.

The Dengie School Allocation Action Group was formed this year after controversy over Essex County Council’s decision to send some Dengie students to secondary schools as far away as Brightlingsea.

They have welcomed the news of the consultation but say the conversation around expanding the intake was needed sooner.

A spokesman said: “We urge Essex County Council to review their strategy with haste and support the implementation if the additional places.

“The Essex County Council ten-year plan clearly identifies additional infrastructure is needed within the Maldon district and it will almost certainly be overwhelmed as it expands to meet government housing targets.

“Lack of school places in rural areas such as St Lawrence, Bradwell-on-Sea, Steeple and Mayland has resulted in Ormiston having considerably fewer places than the demand within the catchment area.

“When special educational needs and disabilities children who require a non-standard curriculum are brought into the equation, it is even worse.

“The absence of specialised flexibility within the district requires them to travel distances of an hour plus to Chelmsford or Benfleet.”

The spokesman added: “It is vital for children to have a reasonable local catchment area to facilitate long term sustainable friendships that are key to their wellbeing and mental health.”