The head of a Birmingham school set to be turned into an academy said it would improve with or without being included in the controversial programme.

College High School in Erdington is one of seven schools Birmingham earmarked to become an academy.

The school, which serves socially deprived students, has historically suffered low attainment levels. Two years ago only 11 per cent of pupils gained five or more good GCSEs.

This year, under the new leadership of Kim Popratnjak, the school has raised its pass rate to 30 per cent.

Ms Popratnjak said: "We have made so many changes in the last 12 months. We have put so much in place. We have large numbers coming into the school because it is popular.

"Whether or not we get a Birmingham academy, what we have done here has made the school stable and we have a real foundation on which we can build."

She said the biggest gain from the programme would be a brand new school under the drive.

"What it will do for us is get a rebuild. If you have a nice environment to work and study in it raises your esteem.

"That is what I am desperate for these kids."

City academies are Tony Blair's flagship initiative for turning round inner city schools blighted by low attainment.

They have attracted controversy because they involve outside organisations gaining influence over the management and curriculum of schools by stumping up £2 million towards the rebuild.

City academies also go outside local authority control.

Birmingham's model differs in that schools remain within the LEA and education chiefs promise they will involve several sponsors preventing any one gaining too much influence.

Ms Popratnjak added: "If it had been a straightforward academy I wouldn't have been as keen but because it is a Birmingham model and the school will still be part of the LEA, we are in a winning situation."