Prime Minister David Cameron has today given the go ahead to a new specialist free school for up to 90 Solihull children at risk of exclusion.

The Solihull Alternative Provision Academy will open in 2017 to cater for pupils who have struggled at mainstream schools, offering individualised support and a more vocational education to help them achieve.

It is being set up by a group of Solihull headteachers who believe an alternative school is needed for their disengaged pupils.

It follows a precedent set by the East Birmingham Network which set up a similar free school at former offices near the Swan Centre in Yardley.

The Solihull Alternative Provision Academy was among 18 free school projects to be approved today.

Announcing the schools, Mr Cameron said it was part of a programme which would see 500 new free schools opened over the next five years.

There are already 252 free schools in the UK, with 52 more opening this week - including Perry Beeches V in Small Heath, The King Solomon International Business School in Aston, the University of Birmingham School in Selly Oak and Eden Boys School in Aston.

Mr Cameron said: "As a one nation government we are clear that every family should have access to a great local school and every child should get the very best education - and free schools are a crucial part of that aim.

"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.

"As schools head back this month, the total number of free schools here in the West Midlands will rise to more than 30 - creating nearly 15,000 school places."

Throughout the wider West Midlands region, he said that more than 5,000 new school places were being provided by the free schools.

"Today's announcement is a clear sign that we will not waver in pressing ahead with our plans to open 500 more of these innovative and exciting schools over the next five years, delivering an excellent education and giving parents across the country, and right here in the West Midlands, real choice for their children," the Prime Minister added.

Two waves of free schools will be announced each year up to 2020 and Education Secretary Nicky Morgan called on more groups, including high performing schools, businesses, charities, cultural and sporting bodies, to step forward and invest in the next generation.

She said: "The 18 new schools announced today include a number that will be set up by teachers themselves, showing the programme is putting power back in the hands of those who know children best."