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'Close down the bad schools'

Parents should have more choice on where they send their children to school and not have to pander to the "nanny state", says the Conservative's education spokesperson for Wales.

Assembly member William Graham claimed failing schools should be closed as early as possible - especially those with falling pupil numbers. He said extra cash should then be pumped into those that were performing well.

"It is not right that parents have to send their children to bad schools simply because of where they live," said Mr Graham. "Every parent wants their child at a good school, so why throw money at ones that should be shut?

"We should be moving towards excellent schools, not those where parents dread sending children."

Mr Graham also called for greater parental choice over special education, with more access to services and special schools. His comments come after Nick Bourne, Welsh Conservative group leader, told the party's annual conference in Bournemouth this week that people should have more choice, particularly over schools and hospitals.

Mr Bourne said the Welsh Conservatives should be offering choice on where children go to school. And he set out his plans for next May's Assembly elections, saying the party's 2007 Welsh manifesto would offer a greater say in public services for a more "progressive and dynamic Wales".

He also called for "tough decisions" on the environment and promised a "truly bilingual Wales" by reviewing laws.

He said: "Local control, individual choice, bilingualism, sustainability, enterprise and innovation - this is our vision."

The Welsh Conservatives have tried to exhibit a more pro-devolution stance under their new leader David Cameron.

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