A North-East university has been chosen to take part in a national scheme for gifted youngsters.

School Standards Minister Stephen Timms launched the National Academy for Gifted and Talented Youth today.

Designed to benefit secondary schoolchildren between the ages of 11 and 16, it will be delivered by various institutions including Durham University.

Its activities will include a 'talent search' offering innovative means of identifying and diagnosing ability, summer school programmes, an innovative outreach programme, on-line learning materials and support for parents and teachers.

During its pilot year, the Academy, estimated to cost £20m over five years, will concentrate on delivering programmes for the most able five per cent and the brightest one per cent of 11-16 year-olds.

Later, it will cater for older and younger students, as well as those with talents in specific areas like sports and the arts.

Along with Durham University, its chosen participants include the London School of Economics, York University and America's John Hopkins University Center for Talented Youth.

Richard Taylor, Durham's head of schools liaison, said: "We have been selected to participate in this scheme because of our strong track record of providing activities for gifted pupils, including summer schools and master classes and our record of excellence in teaching and research.

"We will be holding a summer school for year 11 pupils across the North-East from July 21-27."

Mr Timms said: "We ignore the needs of our most able young people at our peril.

"If we are to have a truly inclusive education system, we must enable every single child to fulfil his or her potential, including those with exceptional ability."