Plans to transform a rugby club into a temporary school have been approved by the Department of Education, allowing it to open in 2020 – one year later than initially planned.

The trust, South West Essex Community Trust, received formal confirmation the academy can open, allowing it to enter into a lease agreement with the Thurrock Rugby Club in Blackshots.

The trust aims to have the club operating as a temporary school from September 2020, giving school places to 120 Year 7 pupils who will eventually be moved over to the planned 1,200-place Orsett Heath Academy which is expected to open sometime around 2022.

Initial plans to have the temporary school open by September 2019 collapsed due to delays in funding.

This forced several other secondary schools to expand classroom sizes to make up for the shortfall in places.

Steve Munday, chief executive of the trust, said: “We know how vital new school places are to the borough, and despite some setbacks, we have been determined to open the academy and provide our community with an excellent new school.

“I very much look forward to the building work commencing and finally being able to welcome our first cohort of Year 7 students in 2020.”

Councillor James Halden, who oversees education, said: “Thurrock Council has already committed £3million for a temporary building to ensure the school opens next academic year, which will then become a great joint resource with the rugby club. In addition, cabinet have added an additional £1million to the capital plan for additional highway works in Blackshots to help new schools become a comfortable part of the local community.

Once pupils at the rugby club have been moved over to the new academy school, the building will remain in use for educational and sports by the club, creating what has been labelled as an ‘institute of sport’.