A Christian charity has formally opened a new inner-city school in Manchester.
City academies are designed to improve school standards in inner-cities
Moss Side City Academy, where lessons began earlier this term, is one of the new, state-maintained independent academies set up with private backing.
It will educate 670 pupils from a wide range of ethnic backgrounds, replacing the failing Ducie High School.
Moss Side was founded by the Church Schools Company, which normally runs fee-paying schools but now plans to open other city academies.
The formal opening ceremony was led by the former Archbishop of Canterbury, George Carey, who is the chairman of the non-profit-making Church Schools Company.
Also present was the former Conservative Education Secretary, Dame Angela Rumbold, chair of the United Learning Trust which the Church Schools Company has established to operate the city academies.
The academy plan
It is due to open two other city academies in Northampton and Lambeth, south London next September.
A fourth academy sponsored by the group is also on course to be opened in Paddington, London, and another is planned for Salford.
The trust has embraced the concept of city academies which are designed as replacements for failing inner-city schools.
The schools are given greater freedom than is available to those in the ordinary maintained sector - for example, they are able to depart from the national curriculum - in an attempt to raise educational achievement.
The schools are publicly funded and are non-selective and the government wants to see at least 20 opened by 2005.
Ministers are currently working on legislation to introduce city academies for all age groups and to establish them in rural as well as urban areas.
Chief executive of the ULT Sir Ewan Harper said the trust had raised £5.15 million in two years to further its work with inner-city schools.
"We are very encouraged by the popularity of the academy vision and believe that we have raised the largest amount of money towards it outside central government," he said.
"We find shared excitement among potential sponsors as we go round talking to private individuals, trusts and foundations laying out our vision for a group of academies to complement our own schools.
"This will provide a genuine partnership between the public and private sectors which has never before been established."
The trust runs private schools in Ashford and Caterham in Kent, Southampton, Guildford, Hull, Lincoln, Sunderland and Surbiton in London.