EXETER is to become the first city outside London to boast a new centre of excellence for maths.
The specialist Free School will be a regional centre of excellence preparing students for rigorous degrees.
The new school, to be run by the University of Exeter and Exeter College, is due to open next year and will recruit 16 to 19-year-old mathematicians.
It will cater for 120 pupils, a fifth of who will be able to board at the university from Mondays to Thursdays. This will allow the school to recruit from across the South West.
The school's aim is to create a regional centre of excellence for the South West, combining the mathematical expertise of university academics and the curricular and pastoral support of the college.
The Free School has been awarded a development grant and is scheduled to open in September 2014, subject to receiving funding agreement.
It would be the second planned specialist maths Free School, following King's College London proposal to open a 16-to-19 school in London, announced last month.
The Government is committed to raising standards in maths to create the next generation of designers, scientists and engineers who will contribute to driving the economy forward. Students will take maths A Level, as well as the Step (Sixth Term Examination Paper) advanced maths exam, a pre-requisite for undergraduate entry to some of the leading university maths departments.
The ultimate aim is to create a network of schools operating across the country that identify and nurture mathematical and scientific talent.
Education secretary Michael Gove said: "I am delighted that a new specialist maths Free School is being opened by Exeter University and Exeter College."
The University of Exeter, part of the Russell Group of leading universities, will provide students with at least 13 hours of maths, physics and computer science teaching a week.
The college, rated outstanding by Ofsted and awarded the Times Education Supplement's 'Outstanding Provider of the Year' in 2012, will provide students with access to a wider curriculum, extra-curricular activities and pastoral support.
Janice Kay, deputy vice-chancellor of the university, said: "This partnership will bring together two institutions which have both won prestigious national accolades this year, to create a hub of educational excellence in the South West. Students will be exposed to mathematical problem-solving which will contribute to the economic development of industry and the digital economy, and build crucial employability skills."
Richard Atkins, principal of Exeter College, said: "In today's global economy it is essential that the UK develops the potential of our most able maths students and this initiative is a much needed response to that challenge."
The Met Office, the UK's national weather service, works closely with the university to advance the science and skill of weather and climate prediction. It hopes to involve the Free School students in its work.