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Last Updated: Wednesday, 12 January, 2005, 03:25 GMT
Plan for university-based school
Steven Schwartz
Steven Schwartz wants to set up an academy on the Brunel campus
A ground-breaking plan to open a school within a university, which will be part-funded by the HSBC bank, has been welcomed by the government.

Brunel University says it wants to open an academy for 16 to 19-year-olds at its Uxbridge campus, with pupils having access to university facilities.

It hopes the school, the Brunel HSBC Education Trust Academy, will encourage more youngsters to enter university.

Schools Minister Stephen Twigg said it would be an "asset to the community".

This business and higher education partnership wants to open the school in September 2007 - and it now says that it is moving a step closer to being formally approved with the release of government funding for a feasibility study.

'Exciting and innovative'

Mr Twigg says that he welcomes this "exciting and innovative proposal".

City academies, which are state schools with a high degree of autonomy, have been designed to involve non-educational organisations, particularly businesses.

But the proposed school for 800 pupils, which would be supported by a 1.2m contribution from the HSBC bank's education trust, would also be unusual in only providing places for 16 to 19-year-olds.

It would provide an alternative to further education and sixth form colleges for teenagers in west London.

The location of the academy within a university is intended to help break down the barriers between secondary and higher education - and to provide "unique and innovative" opportunities for youngsters.

The vice-chancellor of Brunel University is Steven Schwartz, the professor who was in charge of a government-appointed investigation into university admissions.

Confidence building

The proposed academy will focus on maths, science and technology and, in line with its aim to get more youngsters to stay in education beyond school, there will be a "strong emphasis" on building "confidence and self-esteem".

The feasibility study will also consider whether students at the academy would benefit from living there.

HSBC's contribution would only represent part of the expected 17m cost - with the government and other education funding bodies making contributions.

"Academies are steadily transforming the life chances of children and young people in areas where they have opened. If successful, it will be the first academy dedicated solely to 16 to 19-year-olds, and I hope will prove to be a huge asset for the local community," said Mr Twigg.

"It's a unique approach - and one we believe will help tackle under-achievement," said Professor Schwartz

Students will be "exposed to an adult learning environment" and the academy will provide an "experience we hope will fire their imagination and help them to achieve their full potential", he said.

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