AMBITIOUS plans to build a multi-million-pound business-backed super school and Sixth Form centre in Hyndburn have been welcomed by council bosses.
The Hyndburn academy would be the first of its kind in Lancashire and would be for pupils aged between 11 and 18 covering a range of GCSE, NVQ and A-level courses.
Education chiefs are looking to build the corporate-sponsored academy on the site of Accrington's Moorhead Sports College on Queens Road West, Accrington.
It is believed that part of the academy would be sited at the existing school building while a new building would also be added.
Currently, Hyndburn has no Sixth Form provision and students who want to study A-levels are forced to travel outside the borough to neighbouring towns.
Last year, St Christopher's High School in Accrington launched a bid to set-up a Sixth Form at its Queens Road West site.
But the plan failed to win the backing of other headteachers amid fears the school would only select the best pupils from the area.
County Councillor Alan Whittaker, Cabinet member for schools, said: "I am interested in improving the educational opportunities for children and young people in Hyndburn.
"We will be working with all the schools in the community to develop this vision for the future.
"We want to ensure that all local pupils benefit and propose that the post-16 provision at the academy should be a joint venture between the schools in Hyndburn.
"The county council will develop the proposals in discussion with local headteachers and school governors as well as the Department for Education and Skills."
If set up, it is hoped Hyndburn's secondary schools would play a part in making the academy a success by helping run some of its courses.
Councillor Whittaker added that St Christopher's was welcome to continue its plans for a Sixth Form and hoped it would be able to work closely with the planned academy.
St Christopher's headteacher Alasdair Coates said: "Moorhead has made a lot of improvements over the past few years but it was a surprise to hear the news.
"I and all the other headteachers in the area hope that this project could be tied in with the Lancashire Building Schools for the Future project so that all the schools in Hyndburn could be refurbished at the same time.
"As regards our plans for a Sixth Form, we are hoping that we will be able to work closely and collaboratively with these plans."
Council leader Peter Britcliffe said: "I am delighted by this plan to bring Sixth Form provision back to Hyndburn. It is something I have been campaigning for long and hard.
"I have recently backed the plans by St Christopher's to set up a Sixth Form centre and I know this will be really good for the youngsters who we are currently turning away from the borough."