Education chiefs in Birmingham are in talks to create seven city academies in return for millions of pounds of Government cash.
The authority has come up with its own unique version of Tony Blair's controversial flagship policy where wealthy private sponsors help set up and manage new schools.
Until now Birmingham City Council has not joined the programme, accused by some of allowing the private sector in through "the back door".
Critics, including Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott, who yesterday publicly criticised the Government's planned education reforms, also fear the creation of a two-tier system if schools set their own admissions policy.
Birmingham is in top-level negotiations with the Department for Education and Skills to allow an adapted version of the concept to be rolled out across the city.
Support from Europe's biggest education authority will be seen by ministers as a major boost in reaching their target of creating 200 academies by 2010.
Last night a council spokesman confirmed: "The city council is in negotiation with the DfES to create a number of Birmingham academies as part of the city's drive to transform secondary education and create a brighter future for all young people in the city.
"It is intended that the Birmingham academy model will build on the central Govern-ment's model, in line with the city's vision for secondary education."
He added: "We hope to be able to confirm the names of the schools set to become Birmingham academies in the New Year."
Under the traditional academy scheme, failing schools are demolished and replaced with state-of-the-art buildings costing, on average, £25 million each.
Private sponsors - usually businesses, charities or wealthy individuals - contribute up to £2 million, with the rest paid by Government.
Critics claim sponsors who have nothing to do with education gain too much influence over pupils.
They also attack the power of academies to operate outside local education control and set their own admissions policy and teachers' contracts.
Last night Coun Les Lawrence (Con Northfield), Birmingham's cabinet member for education, claimed the Birmingham model would be significantly different.
Crucially, no one sponsor would be allowed to take control.
"They will be schools with academy-like features. They would be part of the family of schools of the LEA," said Coun Lawrence.
"They would have either two or more sponsors in partner-ship with the local authority and they would adhere to the admissions policy across the authority.
"We have gone down this route and the Government is showing considerable enthusiasm for the idea."
Coun Lawrence said the academies would be a "resource" for other schools, enabling them to share good practice.
The Birmingham academy concept is separate to a bid for more than £300 million by the authority to refurbish secondary schools under the Govern-ment's Building Schools for the Future drive.
That bid for funding from a £60 billion cash pot goes before the council today and if approved will be submitted to the DfES before Christmas.
Coun Lawrence said the Birmingham academy programme would release "significant" additional cash.
The National Union of Teachers, which has opposed the traditional city academy model, will be closely watching the Birmingham version.
Brian Carter, Midland regional secretary, said: "What we have against it is that these governors take control of the curriculum. They are not just buying goodwill in the communities, they are buying the schools and out goes democratic responsibility.
"The other big issue is the threat of the impact they have on surrounding schools."
Birmingham City Council is hoping to be able to announce a deal by mid January.