MORE than 800 people attended an open day at Queen Elizabeth’s Grammar School to express their interest in the private school which is proposing to go public.

The school, which has falling pupil numbers, now expects to have to start a waiting list for pupils wishing to join.

The interest was sparked following the announcement that the school is applying for ‘free school’ status with effect from September, 2014.

If approved, the private independent school which currently charges would be free.

Headteacher Simon Corns said: “We have people applying in good numbers for the various years. It’s confirmation that people want a school like this and they will benefit from what QEGS has to offer which they have previously not been able to access in the past due to fees.

“Increasing variety of choice for parents and pupils is a positive step. There is room for a mixed education.

“Successful schools are the ones that people will want to go to. There will be an element of survival of the fittest.”

The school said it may have to recruit more staff in the junior school to cope with the demand for places. Once granted free school status, the school will undertake a phased growth from the current 428 pupils up to 1,100 pupils.

Neil Chamberlain, secretary of the Old Blackburnians’ Association said: “Personally I think that if it helps the school to survive, then there’s no problem. I am not aware of anyone who has objected to the status.

“It has been a free school before. It originally started as a free schools.

“If the school becomes free for the general public then, of course, it is going to gain a lot of interest.”