BLACKBURN’S Queen Elizabeth’s Grammar School is set to see pupil numbers more than double within a year.

At the start of term the school saw numbers boosted from 435 to 700. Now student numbers are expected to soar to 925 by September.

The increase comes as the school looks set to end its private status and will offer free education.

The West Park Road school has planned to expand numbers for some time but had initially planned to do it gradually with extra first year students.

However due to demand for places, the school has decided to take on additional pupils in Years 8 and 9 also, with some accepted in Year 10.

In a letter to parents, headteacher Simon Corns said: “Pupil recruitment is going very well. We’ve had 530 prospective Year 7 pupils sitting our Fair Banding Assessments though there are only 85 places available.

“Such has been the interest in our project, we have decided to bring our expansion forward. Though there will continue to be challenges as always when a school is expanding rapidly, we will achieve stability sooner than originally planned.”

Recruitment at sixth form level is also reported to be “healthy”.

The school is not expected to need any extra building space or physical expansion as the site has housed higher numbers in the past.

The Department for Education has not yet formally given the go-ahead for East Lancashire’s oldest grammar school to become a free school. If the process to become taxpayer-funded is successful, it will see the school open the door to non fee-paying students from September.

QEGS, was founded in 1509 and given its royal charter nearly 60 years later by Queen Elizabeth I. Fees charged have been more than £10,000 a year and pupil numbers fell from a high of 1,200 in 1997 to 478 in 2012.

As a free school, QEGS will still be able to set its own extended curriculum, term dates and length of school day.