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Educational failure of coastal towns makes waves

Congratulations on your excellent cover story: at last an urgent call to action for our coastal towns ("Waiting for a sea change", 29 March). Having visited schools across England during my term as schools commissioner, I recognise the need for a new focus on our coastal communities, many of which are disconnected from jobs and hope. Those who can, move out.

The future is certainly to attract more investment in training, housing and the arts in order to stimulate growth and make recruitment attractive. Let us not forget, though, the role that parents can play in the education process: we must work hard to restore the belief in education of parents in our coastal towns - themselves often disadvantaged educationally - and encourage them to support it for their children in partnership with local schools. Including parental engagement in initial teacher training would be one way to do this, as would sharing the examples of good practice that I have seen to exist.

We know from work in disadvantaged urban areas that education can be transformed. Our task in coastal areas now is not only to do this but to do it quickly.

Dr E.M Sidwell CBE, Schools commissioner, Department for Education.

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