THE man responsible for education in Thurrock has praised the level of the borough’s academies.

John Kent, council leader and education portfolio holder, pictured, has paid visits to Thurrock’s first academy and its latest academy to check on their progress.

He went to the newly named Hathaway Academy – formerly the Grays School – on Friday, July 12, and the Gateway Academy, in Tilbury, on Thursday July 18.

He said: “The Grays is my old school and after my visit I must admit to mixed emotions.

“In some ways little had changed over the intervening years, many of the buildings and classrooms were the same, but then there was the brand new vocational skills centre – showing we were investing well over £1million there.

“The way school funding works these days and having only just become an academy, I am sure the centre is only the first step towards The Grays becoming one of the borough’s finest schools.

“We’ve shown commitment putting the funding together and supporting the bid for academy status and the teaching staff and the pupils have also shown their determination to grasp the opportunities the future will bring.”

Cllr Kent also praised the drastic changes to the Gateway Academy, which was formed from a merger of Torrells and St Chad’s schools.

He said: “Gateway was a totally different proposition: a brand new school with brand new facilities already in place and a vision for the future we should all aspire to.

“Most of us can remember the fight Thurrock Council had to turn two struggling but historic schools into one shining educational institution, the battle to overcome suspicion and negativity, but we succeeded there and I am sure we will succeed elsewhere too.”

He added: “I know it was a totally different academy system back then, but it is still the same band of down-to-earth, determined Thurrock people who know how to work together to get the best for our borough.

“The council can only do so much. We can lead, we can knock on government doors, we can seek out those with money and ask – but it is the grit and resolution of Thurrock people backing us up which will ensure our success.”