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Fast track to parent power

Elmgreen is the first school set up by parents under regulations, introduced three years ago, which force local authorities to consider other providers when they plan new schools.

Stephen Twigg, the former schools minister, agreed to fast-track funding for the pound;25 million school, so that it could open in September 2007.

The proposals came from parents who feared their children would not get places at local schools - a particular concern in Lambeth, where nearly six out of 10 resident children go to school outside the borough. But it is not the first time that parents have taken their children's education into their own hands.

In 1987, 23 children from Overthorpe primary, in Kirklees, were taught in a pub for several months after their parents objected to the fact that 85 per cent of pupils were Asian.

In the London borough of Southwark, sustained campaigning by parents led to failing Dulwich high school being replaced by the Charter school in September 2000. The council allocated pound;4.5m to transform the comprehensive's buildings. Parental campaigning was also behind Lambeth academy which opened with pound;20m sponsorship from the United Learning Trust.

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