THE future of the Deanes School could finally be secured as the Department of Education has agreed to consider their bid for academy status.

The Education minister Michael Gove announced last night that having assessed the school's viability, he is happy to consider their bid to become a joint acacemy with the Billiercay School.

Official confirmation is expected in the next month.

If approved, it will finally put to bed Essex County Council's controversial plans to try and shut the school from August 2016.

It would mean the Deanes School, in Daws Heath Road, Thundersley, would operate independently from the county council working in joint partnership with the Billericay School meaning its long-term future would be secured.

A statement from the Department of Education said: "Having looked at the details of the schools viability presented by Rebecca Harris and the management of The Deanes, I am very pleased to say that the Minister has agreed to consider a formal multi-academy application from The Deanes and Billericay Schools."

Head teacher Jan Atkinson broke the good news to staff this morning and said while there was a lot of work to do, it was a step in the right direction.

She said: "There is still masses of work to do, but he is seriously condering our application and we have not had that good news so far. Clearly he doesn't have the same concerns about our viability as Essex County Council does. We think we will know officially in the next month but we've just got to get all the paperwork in and hopefully they can fast track our application.

"So we have to keep smiling and keep hanging in there bcause hopefully we will get there soon."