KINGSMEAD School is to take on dozens of new students as it expands its catchment area to parts of West Somerset.

Head teacher Mark Griffin said the move is designed to accommodate students from Dulverton Middle School, which could have its age range lowered.

There are already more than 800 students on Kingsmead’s roll but parents in the school’s current catchment area – which includes Wiveliscombe, Cotford St Luke and Bishops Lydeard – have been reassured their children will not miss out on a place.

Mr Griffin said: “The decision to expand was taken for two reasons. Firstly, children at Dulverton will need a school to go to and as Kingsmead is for most of them their closest school, it seems the most obvious solution.

“Secondly, although it seems counter-intuitive, it will be easier to manage a sudden and projected growth than it will to manage the creeping increase of student numbers from within our current catchment, as we will be able to plan accommodation and staff increases.”

The expansion means from September 2015, Kingsmead will open its doors to students in Dulverton.

It is anticipated it will increase numbers by up to 30 in each year, starting with Year 7 and 8.

Plans are in place to build a new classroom block with dining and sports changing facilities, as well as extra car parking spaces, to accommodate the increase in students and staff.

Mr Griffin said: “We have some money set aside which we can add to money designated to Kingsmead from Somerset County Council to build new accommodation due for completion in August 2015, ready for expansion in the September.

“Dulverton’s catchment covers most of the Somerset area of Exmoor. This is a huge but relatively sparsely populated area.”

As reported in the County Gazette, currently children aged nine to 13 can attend Dulverton Middle, but Somerset County Council’s shake-up could lower the age range to seven to 11.

When asked about the possibility of Kingsmead expanding its catchment, school governors held consultations with parents.

Mr Griffin added: “There’s no threat to any pupil currently living in Wiveliscombe or our catchment area.

“The changes would have no negative impact on our teaching and, in fact, I believe they would enhance the breadth of our curriculum.”