HEADTEACHER Jan Atkinson credits the unrelenting kindness of her pupils and staff as a huge motivator for keeping her going during her ten-month struggle to save the Deanes.
While many children grumble at the thought of getting up and going to school, those at the Deanes did their bit to cheer up their headteacher when spirits were low and their school was under threat.
From baking cakes and writing songs, to taking part in protests and e-mailing politicians, nothing was too much for them.
Even now, after the Thundersley school’s reprieve, the dedication of Deanes pupils is unwavering.
Year 7 pupil Shane Sheppard, 11, made his own certificate to present to Mrs Atkinson and Castle Point Tory MP Rebecca Harris to congratulate them on their efforts to save the school after the good news was announced last month.
Shane has also been running a Facebook page and wrote a song to celebrate the good news, which he put on Youtube.
Shane said: “I wrote a song because I just felt so happy the school was staying open.
“It only took me a couple of hours to make, because I really love music.
“I’m so happy its staying open.
I have brittle bone disease so I have to be careful and the school does so much to support me.
“My dad didn’t want me to go anywhere else and I’m glad he didn’t.”
Year 8 pupil Ellie Bean and her parents attended every protest, staying up late to make placards and banners.
When they learnt the school was saved, Ellie and her mum made cakes for Mrs Atkinson.
Ellie said: “I was devastated when we thought it could close – it was wrong and we wanted to help in any way we could.
“My elder sister came here and she loved the school and everything about it, just like me ,so the whole family has been involved. It’s so nice to think we made a difference.
“My mum and I made a cake for Mrs Atkinson and the staff and I know other people have sent cards and bought gifts.
“I think everyone really wants to do nice things for the teachers because they’ve done so much for us.”
Mrs Atkinson broke the news the school was saved to her 600 cheering pupils at a special assembly two weeks ago.
Year 10 pupil Laura Bishop said: “We knew something big was going to happen because everyone was called to the hall, but we thought it would be bad news and the school was closing.
“When Mrs Atkinson said we’d won it was amazing.
Everyone was cheering. Some peoplewere crying. There was so much noise.
“We were all so happy because it made it all worth it, all the protests we went to all the e-mails we sent to Tim Coulson and Ray Gooding telling them to keep their hands off our school.
“My mumwas really happy as well so we baked cupcakes for Mrs Atkinson.
“I think if we had to do it all over again we would, because everyone loves the school – it’s just like one big family.”
Mrs Atkinson said: “I’ve had cakes, special certificates awarded to me, songs written about the school, cards, bouquets of flowers from someone’s grandmother – the support has been overwhelming.
“A lot of people didn’t know this but Sophie McArthur has been making me cakes every Friday to cheer me up.
“She also made me a lovely tiered cake to celebrate when we finally got the good news.
“I think a lot of people didn’t believe in the process, but it has come through for us and I think all the support has givenme and everyone here renewed energy.
“Luckily I have a personal trainer – a former pupil – who helps me keep in shape.”