Football stars of the future are being allowed to escape the classroom to hone their skills on the pitch.

Talented young players from across the city have been brought together in Edinburgh's first football academy at Broughton High School so they can develop their gifts as part of the daily curriculum.

They take lessons with their fellow pupils as normal except that, four days out of five, football is scheduled into their timetable alongside history, geography, languages and science.

They have to take their full complement of maths and English lessons, but the footballers have five fewer periods a week in other subjects, such as home economics, drama and social studies. On Thursdays, it's double football in the afternoon.

Eight S1 pupils are enrolled at the academy, run in conjunction with the Scottish Football Association, and a similar number are expected to be recruited each year. The aim is to give them the coaching and support which will allow them the opportunity to go on to play professional football.

Four of the youngsters are currently signed up with Hutchison Vale and the others are with Hibernian, Livingston and Dunfermline Athletic.

The specialist football education is not only coaching on the field, but sessions in sports psychology and sports science with staff from Telford College.

A previous scheme to nurture the city's brightest young footballers saw them brought together for training outside school hours, but the integration of football into the school day means they no longer have to train every evening and so have more time for homework and other activities.

Broughton High is already home to a specialist dance school and the City of Edinburgh Music School. The new school building, opened last year by then Scottish FA chief executive Gordon Smith and city education convener Marilyne MacLaren, has top-class football facilities including a floodlit 3G football pitch, a 2G pitch and a sports hall.

Councillor MacLaren said: "Our football academy allows talented young footballers from across the city to develop their skills during the school day.

"This is a skills-based programme that fits in with the curriculum for excellence and allowing them to train during the day means there is less pressure to train with a club at night, meaning they can balance their football with their studies."

For more information on this programme please contact David Sheldon on 0131 550 6849