St John’s School is welcoming in the new year with a new headmaster.

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Simon Larter took over the position at the Sidmouth school from acting head Mike Burgess on Monday, and is looking to make his mark.

He will spearhead the launch of a new sixth form, in response to demand from parents that has seen the school’s upper age limit increase from 13 to 16 over the last three years.

“Parents don’t want their children to leave,” Simon said.

“There’s no point changing things that work but there is a great demand for a sixth form – there’s already been a big interest.”

The new head comes from the same job at a boys’ school in Harrow, an area with a similar diversity to the boarding school.

Simon also has form building sixth forms after setting one up at a co-ed school in Northampton.

The father-of-two interviewed for the position last May, since when he has been fostering links with the teachers and getting to know the school.

He has had the benefit of witnessing a full inspection of the school, with results being released in coming weeks.

Simon, 54, said: “We’re very positive about the results – it’s another seal of approval.”

He hopes to support the local community as well as the international one.

In appreciation of its East Devon surroundings, the school is this year launching scholarships aimed at those from a 15-mile radius.

Simon has moved to the area from Northampton with his wife Melanie and his cat.

“I used to wake up to the sound of police cars and ambulances – now it’s seagulls.

“The contrast is amazing.”

A geography student at university, Simon has taught a variety of subjects, from maths to French, and he hopes to get in the classroom as much as the timetable allows.

An open evening for the sixth form will be held next Thursday (January 17) from 6pm until 8pm.

To register, call Jo Mason on 01395 513984 or email admissions.stjohns@iesmail.com.

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