LONG-TERM plans to make a grammar school more accessible to local and disadvantaged children are coming to fruition.

When headmaster Dr Dorian Lewis took the reins at Bournemouth School around half the pupils travelled from outside the town.

A high proportion took places in Year 7 after spending their primary years in independent schools and many had received coaching from private tutors.

This year will see 93 per cent of the places taken by Bournemouth children in September.

And Dr Lewis now plans to go further by offering extra support to disadvantaged Bournemouth children who want to apply for a grammar school place.

"It is not morally right that children from disadvantaged backgrounds don't have the same opportunities as those from more affluent families" he said.

"We hope to give educational support to young people in primary schools in some of the more deprived areas of Bournemouth. That will put them on a level playing field with those whose families who can afford to pay for it."

Dr Lewis and Chair of Governors David Sidwick have spent several years putting plans in place to ensure the school offers the opportunity for social mobility.

They plan to help with uniform costs for those who can't afford it and even hold entrance tests in schools in deprived areas to ensure youngsters get the opportunity to try for a place.

From next year, Bournemouth School will offer an extra 30 places bringing the admission number to 180.

A consultation process is now under way on plans to increase the number to 210 in 2021.

In order to do so the school would need a larger dining room and more classrooms so it is applying for a share of £50 million announced by the government for grammar schools across the country.

Bournemouth council has also contributed £200,000 for refurbishment of parts of the East Way school.

Mr Sidwick said: "When I was first a governor in 2005 there were pupils here who lived an hour-and-a-half away while a child down the road who had scored one per cent less in the test could not get in - that's not right."

Dr Lewis added:"We want to give the disadvantaged children a bit of a leg up. This school should be for children who are academically able regardless of their background."

Details of the consultation are available at bournemouth-school.org/812/open-consultation-on-plans-to-expand