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Simon Langton Grammar School for Boys to expand to cope with ‘exceptional’ demand for places

By Joe Wright

An “exceptionally oversubscribed” grammar school is to expand its intake this September to cater for a huge demand for places.

Simon Langton Boys in Canterbury will accept an extra class of 30 pupils over the next two years after becoming inundated with applications.

It hopes the move will see fewer families enduring the “lengthy and emotional” appeals process, which last year saw 70 boys fighting for just eight places.

Simon Langton Boys (12217498)
Simon Langton Boys (12217498)

The added allocation could then become permanent if the trial period is deemed a success by Kent County Council.

In 2013, the school essentially became ‘super selective’ when it made its entry criteria more stringent, with applicants having to pass the 11-plus with a higher score.

But still huge numbers have continued to apply for one of its 1,150 places, particularly from Herne Bay and Whitstable.

Head of school Ken Moffat, who says additional buildings may be needed on site in the future, has overseen two extra appointments in English and maths to cater for the uptake.

“Last year there were 70 appeals fighting it out for eight places at the school,” he said.

“The level of enthusiasm for those wanting to come here is higher than ever before.

Ken Moffat, the head of Simon Langton Grammar School for Boys
Ken Moffat, the head of Simon Langton Grammar School for Boys

“Even when we changed the entry requirements a few years back, we started to fill up the spaces and our catchment area began to shrink. We want to cater for a nine-mile radius and have room for those in Whitstable and Herne Bay.”

Due to the trial, the school is confirmed to expand by 60 pupils in the next two academic years. If the move becomes permanent, then there could be an extra 150 children at the grammar by 2024.

It comes amid a backdrop of plans to open a new grammar school satellite in one of the coastal towns, with Barton Court in Canterbury and Queen Elizabeth’s in Faversham vying to take it on.

Mr Moffat, who has worked at the school since 1988, added: “We’re responding to the need for more school places in the district due to the thousands of extra homes set to be built. It could become permanent, but that also depends on whether there will be a grammar on the coast.”

Parents have been told of the school’s expansion in a letter signed off by Mr Moffat.

'The level of enthusiasm for those wanting to come here is higher than ever before' - Ken Moffat

It reads: “Over the last three years we have become inundated with applications to the school and have become exceptionally over-subscribed.

“The school remains highly popular in the local community and there is a spike in numbers of school-aged children.

“This has led to long, lengthy and emotional appeals processes which have benefited very few.

“Admission criteria remains the same and we have begun a conversation with council as to the nature of additional buildings we may need to accommodate this, if it becomes permanent.”

News from our universities, local primary and secondary schools including Ofsted inspections and league tables can be found here.

Read more: All the latest news from Herne Bay

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