A SPECIAL school dealing with “unrelenting” demand is set to expand to accommodate its growing number of pupils.

The pupil roll at Market Field school, in Elmstead Market, has grown by almost 100 since 2014, with 280 pupils expected to fill out its classrooms come September.

The school takes on youngsters with moderate learning difficulties and provides specialist education to children with autism.

Its glowing reputation is reflected in its three consecutive Outstanding Ofsted reports.But a high standard of education brings with it a sharp rise in demand.

Gary Smith, headteacher, admitted the school had fallen victim to its own success.

“It is a nice problem to have I suppose, but it is horrible to have to turn people down,” he said.

“As much as I love the job - that’s the side of it I hate.”

Under plans recently submitted to Tendring Council, the school’s leadership hopes to extend its Elmstead Market site by building four new classrooms.

The school currently relies on rented space at Clacton Coastal Academy to teach 31 pupils aged between 11 and 16.

If approved, the scheme would see this group relocated to the new classrooms.

A report written in support of the application said: “For the first time in 30 years we have been criticised by social care. This has proved disturbing for all concerned.

“The Key Stage 4 students educated remotely do not have access to the full range of specialist subject expertise.

“Costs associated with operating a split site are considerable and in addition also places additional time constraints on staff that are already significantly stretched.”

It added: “We serve the poorest ward in the country.

“Currently 109 of our pupils are eligible for free school meals and this represents 40 per cent of our children.

“There is unprecedented demand for spaces which seems unrelenting.”

The school also operates a college at Tendring Education Centre, in Jaywick Lane, for students aged between 16 and 18.

Mr Smith says the school will expand no further under his leadership.

“I don’t think there is really a school like ours, where we are special school with 280 pupils,” he said.

“I think if we look to go beyond that it’s not special anymore.

“There needs to be a family feel. We are quite a big family, but we are still a family, and I think retaining that ethos is the most important thing.”

Tendring Council will have the final say on the plans.