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Pressure 'increasing isolation'

Schools are becoming isolated from their communities, research by the Association of Metropolitan Authorities has found. It blames the trend on the increasing emphasis on academic achievement, competition for resources, and confusion over the role of governors.

The findings are based on interviews with parents, governors, councillors, LEA officials and others in four areas: Harrow, Hampshire, Kent and Sheffield.

Authors Philippa Cordingley and Tim Harrington conclude that "the potential needs of the community are being obscured by the current pressure on schools.

"Traditionally, schools have aimed at developing 'good' citizens as well as academically successful pupils. They are now increasingly obliged to concentrate on the latter. Such pressures have also combined with the introduction of the national curriculum to squeeze the scope for local flexibility," the report says.

It suggests that consultation with parents is often based on too narrow a conception of their role, adding: "There is a strong desire among parents to be recognised not only as 'parents of school pupils' but also as citizens with multiple roles, talents and responsibilities."

Expecting governors to be both school managers and community representatives is "unrealistic".

Communities, schools and LEAs. Learning to meet needs. AMA or LGMB publications (01582 451166). Pounds 12

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