A GROUNDBREAKING initiative to teach Advanced Highers to pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds at a university hub rather than school has been backed by the Education Secretary.

Michael Russell said other universities and local authorities should look at the pioneering work done by Glasgow Caledonian University, in partnership with Glasgow City Council.

Speaking at an event to celebrate the success of the first group of pupils to graduate - who achieved a pass rate of 74 per cent - Mr Russell described it as a "wonderful piece of work".

He said: "This helps local authorities look at the issue of how they can provide the

widest choice of Advanced Highers at a time when it is difficult to do so in individual secondary schools.

"For universities it provides an opportunity to draw in young people and give them a taste of university life and the different teaching and learning styles they will experience later on.

"I think other universities and other councils will look at this pretty quickly and, while we need to discuss the funding of these hubs, it is an idea that works."

The £1 million project, which has been backed by the Scottish Funding Council, is unusual because a university is employing school teachers for the first time.

In the first year, Glasgow Caledonian recruited pupils

from 18 secondary schools, many of which serve some

of the poorest communities in the city.

Under the partnership with the council, the hub offered more than 100 pupils Advanced Higher courses in maths, English, biology, chemistry, history, modern studies and business management.

Pupils travelled from school to the university to study twice a week, with those that did well offered advanced standing to degree courses at the university as part of moves to widen access.

The university now plans to expand the project with around 60 extra students, more subjects and four additional schools. Stephen Curran, the council's executive member for education, said: "This is a fantastic initiative which is going from strength to strength."