An Oxfordshire secondary school could become England's first multilingual academy in a proposal backed by the Government's schools minister.

Andrew Adonis said he was "in principle keen" to turn The European School Culham, which already gives pupils a bilingual education, into a state-funded academy.

Speaking to the Financial Times, Lord Adonis described the school as "highly successful and innovative" and said he would be "very keen" for it to continue teaching the European Baccalaureate, making it the only academy in the country to do so.

The school, off the A415 south of Abingdon, opened in 1975 to educate the children of scientists working on the nearby Joint European Torus (JET) project, but now teaches many local pupils.

Oxford city councillor and former Lord Mayor Jim Campbell, who taught there from 1987 to 1999 and is a trustee of the English Trust for European Education, said an academy would be "brilliant for Oxfordshire".

He said: "The school has an interesting approach to education and is amazing at developing language skills.

"You are not conscious of learning languages because you learn through different mediums all around you, not just in a French or German lesson.

"What is planned for Culham is very exciting because it means this system of education, with the European Baccalaureate, can, for the first time in this country, be used in a wider form.

"It will no longer be primarily for children of European officials, it will be open access."

Mr Campbell said the news would allay fears the school could close.

He said: "It is only an in-principle decision at the moment, but things are looking good, and parents can really feel assured there is a future for European education at Culham."

The school is one of 14 across the continent and is heavily subsidised by the European Commission.

Students, who range from four to 18 years old, can be taught in English, German, French, Italian, Dutch or Danish, and the school says about 10 per cent of its pupils go on to Oxbridge.

Speaking in the Financial Times, acting head Uffe Gravers Pedersen said the school planned to continue a multilingual system of education if it became an academy.

A spokesman for the Department for Children, Schools and Families said: "The situation at the moment is that there will need to be a feasibility study before any decision is made."