Balls rejects parents' plan to set up school

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The Independent Online

The Government was at the centre of a furious row last night after rejecting an application from a parents' group to set up their own school.

The decision from Schools Secretary Ed Balls came just weeks after he had pledged in an election debate on BBC1's Newsnight that Labour supported the idea of parents being allowed to run their own schools.

However, in the first application to come before him since the debate, he turned down a plea from parents in Kirklees, West Yorkshire, to set up a 900-pupil secondary school.

In his ruling yesterday, Mr Balls said one of the main reasons was that the proposal "would result in a high level of surplus places" in neighbouring schools. He was attacked by Michael Gove, the shadow Education Secretary, who said: "Ed Balls says he wants to give parents more choice and control over their schools but when the crunch comes he's let down a dedicated and hardworking group of parents in West Yorkshire."

Under Tory proposals to build a network of independent "free" schools around the country, parents would be given the green light to set up their own schools.