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First state school based at a university opens in Birmingham

The University of Birmingham School in Selly Oak aims to give pupils from disadvantaged homes the kind of learning experience available at fee-paying institutions

Britain's first state secondary school to be based on a university site has opened its doors in Birmingham - offering private school-standard education free.

The University of Birmingham School in Selly Oak aims to give its pupils - half of which are from disadvantaged homes in the city - the kind of learning experience they would enjoy if they could afford independent school fees of up to £30,000 a year.

Teachers at the school will be paid an extra £1,700 a year to give every pupil five hours of "enrichment" each week on top of their core academic studies.

The move is part of its aim to provide an "unrivalled educational experience" by exploiting its close links with the university.

The £23 million school was deluged with thousands of applications for its year 7 and lower sixth form places.

Its year 7 intake consists of 75 pupils living near the Bristol Road site, with another 75 from homes near Hall Green, Small Heath and the Jewellery Quarter railway stations.

"These are some of the city's fastest growing and most deprived areas, where there is a real need for secondary school places," said Prinicpal Michael Roden.

"We could not be more excited to welcome our first two year groups of pupils.

"These students are making history as they step through the doors and we hope they will take full advantage of the wonderful opportunities this school will provide and go on to fulfil their individual potential becoming people of well-rounded character, flourishing and engaged citizens as well as attaining the highest possible outcomes.

"We are looking forward immensely now to getting started and seeing what the future holds for our young people."

The school - the first secondary university training school in the country - will grow to its full capacity of 1,150 pupils by 2020.

It is one of six new free schools to have opened its doors for the first time this September in Birmingham.

The others are King Solomon International Business school, Perry Beeches V, Eden Boys' School, EBN Academy 2 and The Edge Academy.

Free schools, which are funded by the Government but are not run by local authorities, give headteachers more control over how they operate.

They are non-selective and can set their own pay and conditions for staff, change the length of term time and the school day - and they do not have to follow the national curriculum.

They run on a not-for-profit basis and can be set up by all kinds of organisations and people, including charities, parents, businesses and faith groups.

Prime Minister David Cameron earlier this year announced plans for 500 new free schools over the next year across Britain.

He said: "The aim of this policy is crystal clear - to increase the number of good and outstanding school places so that more parents have the security of knowing their child is getting a great education."

The Edge Academy, Northfield

The school has been set-up by a network of secondary schools in south Birmingham - Colmers School, Turves Green Boys' School, Turves Green Girls' School, Four Dwellings Academy, Shenley Academy, Lordswood Girls' School and Lordswood Boys School.

It plans to phase in pupils and reach its full capacity of 140 pupils by September 2016.

Its website says: "An important aim of The Edge is to provide early intervention for schools and pupils and re-engage pupils with their learning in a mainstream setting.

"For younger pupils we will provide fixed term provision with a reintegration plan into a local mainstream school."

King Solomon International Business School, Aston

The school in Lord Street is part of the Woodard family of Christian schools.

Principal designate Michelle Newman said: "What makes our school so unique and distinctive from other schools, both locally and nationally, is reflected through our embrace of the international world, to include our international business specialism and our offer of the International Baccalaureate programme.

"Our all-through school provision underpinned by a strong Christian ethos adds to our uniqueness.

"We aim to ensure all of our learners learn about the world and their relationship to it through a truly innovative hybrid curriculum which serves to offer the very best learning experiences from around the globe."

Perry Beeches V, Small Heath

The all-through school is the fifth in a chain of free schools run by "super" headteacher Liam Nolan.

In a joint statement on the school's website, primary headteacher Caz Brasenell and secondary head Perdip Mann said: "Our school is built on traditional values following a mutual respect agenda with a culture of learning and success for all.

"We have high aspirations for all students, whatever their academic start point."

The school was the subject of controversy before it even opened its doors, with Birmingham City Council unsuccessfully lobbying the Department for Education to stop it from opening on the Talbot Way site.

The local authority fears it has opened in an area where there is not a shortage of school places and therefore could jeopardise the future of other schools in the area.

Eden Boys' School, Aston

The new Muslim faith-based secondary school opened this month with 100 year 7 students and 50 students in year 8 - with it due to reach full capacity of 700 students by 2019.

Principal Asiyah Ravat said on the school's website: "We aim to provide educational excellence.

"For us, this is a responsibility not only to achieve high academic standards but also to foster a love of learning in our boys.

"It is our belief that this passion will carry our pupils to succeed in whichever road they choose to travel.

"We will be a school that will prepare our students for jobs that don't yet exist, using technologies that have not yet been invented."

EBN Academy 2, Sutton Coldfield

EBN Academy opened in Yardley in September 2012 and was launched by 12 schools that form the East Birmingham Network.

It was the first school of its kind in the country, catering for 13 to 16 year olds for whom mainstream education was no longer appropriate. EBN Academy 2 is the second phase of the school.

The school's website says: "Seeking to re-engage our scholars through dynamic teaching, collaborative working and superb resourcing, the EBN Academy is a safe-haven designed to allow our young scholars to grow and flourish free from stigma and prejudice."

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