A SEVERE shortage in school places in Thurrock is set to be rectified with plans to create 1,340 additional places taking a significant step forward.

Next Wednesday the council’s cabinet is expected to give the green light for land in Grays to be released for two new free schools.

Under the proposals, Orsett Heath Academy – a new 1,200-place secondary school run by the South West Essex Community Education Trust, would be built on land to the north west of Stanford Road in Grays.

Meanwhile, Treetops Special School – a 140-place special school for pupils with autism and moderate learning difficulties, would be built on the former Torrells County Secondary School for Girls site in Buxton Road, Grays.

Thurrock Council works closely with the borough’s schools, the education skills and funding agency and the department for education to ensure there are enough school places to meet demand.

In April last year, the Government agreed to fund three bids to build brand new schools in Thurrock.

The funding was designated to be used for Orsett Heath Academy, Treetops Special Free School, as well as Thameside Secondary School – which is set to provide a further 900 places.

At the time, there was 17,000 children in Thurrock primary schools, but only 9,500 places available in secondary schools.

James Halden, councillor responsible for education and health, said: “We are committed to ensuring all children receive the best possible education and already have many excellent schools in Thurrock, with 94 per cent currently rated as good or outstanding by Ofsted.

“The borough is growing rapidly and with 32,000 new homes expected to be needed over the next 20 years, it is important we have the infrastructure in place to support that growth.

“These two new schools will be vital in ensuring that there are enough places to meet demand and all young people can achieve their aspirations in Thurrock.”