Police are searching for a 51-year-old man over a “deliberate” hit-and-run collision which killed a 12-year-old boy outside an Essex school.

Four teenagers, who are thought to be pupils at Debden Park High School in Loughton, and a 53-year-old woman were also injured when the vehicle ploughed into them.

Helen Gascoyne, the school’s head, said the community is “devastated” by the death of one of its students.

Essex Police have launched a murder probe and are searching for Terry Glover, a 51-year-old man from Loughton.

Officers are also trying to trace a silver Ford Ka, with the registration LS08 OKW, believed to have been involved in the crash in Willingale Road.

Graphic locates Debden Park High School in Loughton
(PA Graphics)

Chief Superintendent Tracey Harman told reporters on Monday night: “We believe that the collision was deliberate and as such we have launched a murder investigation.

“We are investigating whether or not this incident may have been connected with another incident nearby.”

Ms Harman said searches have been carried out to try to locate Glover, and appealed directly to him to come forward.

“Please contact us. We need to talk to you,” she said.

Inspector Rob Brettell, of Essex Police’s serious collision investigation unit, said there is likely to be some damage to the front of the car.

Police were called to the scene shortly after the end of the school day, at around 3.20pm on Monday.

East of England Ambulance Service sent 15 ambulances and 10 other vehicles, while three air ambulances were mobilised.

A 12-year-old boy was taken to hospital where he died, while two 15-year-old boys, a 13-year-old boy, a 16-year-old girl and a 53-year-old woman were also hurt.

Hit and run outside Essex school
Police stand on the corner of Jessel Drive and Willingale Road (Rick Findler/PA)

Essex Police said they were treated at the scene or in hospital, and their injuries are not believed to be life-changing or life-threatening.

Detective Chief Inspector Rob Kirby said: “This has been a truly shocking incident and my deepest sympathies are with all those involved.

“I would like to thank the many members of the public who have called us with information and spoken to our officers, as well as those who provided crucial medical assistance at the scene.

“I would urge anyone with information, dashcam footage, or who may have seen anything on social media that they think could be crucial to call us on 101 and quote incident number 726 of 2 December.”

Mr Brettell said on Twitter it is likely to be a “prolonged and serious investigation”.

Hit and run outside Essex school
The scene near Debden Park High School (Rick Findler/PA)

Debden Park is a mixed academy school for pupils aged 11 to 18, which specialises in the performing arts and received a rating of “outstanding” in its most recent Ofsted inspection, according to its prospectus.

A statement from Ms Gascoyne said: “As a school and a community we are devastated to say that as a result of the incident in Willingale Road this afternoon, it is with great sadness that we must report that a 12-year-old student from our school has sadly died.

“Our thoughts are with the family and all those affected. As a school we continue to work with the police supporting the ongoing investigation.

“The school will be open tomorrow with a number of counsellors on hand to support our community.”

A police cordon remained in place along Willingale Road on Monday night manned by uniformed officers.

The cordon began metres from the entrance to Debden Park High School, near the junction of Jessel Drive.

An officer could be seen going door to door in the streets nearby.

Armed police could be seen outside a home on the corner of Newmans Lane and Hatfields in Loughton, where neighbours said Glover lived alone.

No lights were on in the property but two armed officers were stationed outside while a marked squad car was parked in the road.