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Parents could force action on poor schools

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New legislation forcing councils to act if enough parents are angry with the state of local secondary schools will underline the sector’s key education role, according to one senior Local Government Association figure.

Prime Minister Gordon Brown has said the government’s upcoming education white paper would include measures requiring councils to open new schools, or set up improvement federations if there was “significant dissatisfaction” among parents over particular schools.

John Merry (Lab), deputy chair of the LGA’s children and young people’s board, said the move recognised councils’ democratic role at the heart of school improvement.

“Providing this is handled intelligently, the requirement to act on the concerns of parents is not a difficulty,” he said.

“It is exactly the kind of relationship we want between communities, their elected representatives and local schools.”

However, Cllr Merry said he believed parental dissatisfaction alone should not be enough to prompt local authority intervention — and that evidence of low standards should also be a factor to avoid the waste of time and money.

He added that the best councils already intervened at struggling schools.

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