THE leader of Thurrock Council has questioned the need for a new school in Chafford Hundred.

The Government announced today that the Harris Federation has been given the go-ahead to set up a new secondary free school in the area.

John Kent, who is also the council's education lead, said that he didn't doubt the new school would be "phenomenal", he is not sure Chafford Hundred needs a new school and questioned whether the money would be better spent raising attainment at the borough's current cohort of schools.

The 1,100-pupil free school will be state-funded but independent of the council. The Harris Federation already run the "outstanding" Harris Academy in Chafford Hundred, which is one of the top performing schools in the country.

More details on how the school - due to open in September 2015 - will work and where it will be located are expected to emerge later today [Thursday].

Responding to the news, Me Kent said: "While we question the need for another new school on this estate, we have a good a close working relationship with the Harris Academy, and know they understand the delicate nature of these decisions – it is far more than a simple announcement, the devil, as always, will be in the detail, detail we haven’t seen yet.

"I want every Thurrock school to be outstanding and we all want all our children to have the best possible education, and the important word there is ‘all’ so we must now work to ensure the creation of this school will not have the, unintentional, effect of undermining other schools in the borough.

"It’s about more than creating one new school for Chafford Hundred, the council has to ensure every child in Thurrock has the best possible chance, whether living on this estate or in Chadwell or Corringham."

He added: "People will ask whether it is wise to spend millions on creating one new school - or whether would it be better to spend the money to raise attainment and facilities across all our schools and to fund additional classes at Harris and elsewhere to accommodate future need?

"We are where we are and the government has made its decision. It is now up to us as a council and us as an education community to make the best of that.

"We look forward to working with this school – as we do every school in Thurrock – to get the best education we can for all our young people."