Education Secretary Ruth Kelly yesterday refused to give ground on a key concern of Labour rebels as she sought to win last-minute support for the Government's controversial school reforms.

Ms Kelly said she would not reconsider plans to give the Secretary of State the power to block local councils setting up new community schools. But she urged her colleagues to back the Education Bill in the Commons this week, adding that the "dialogue" with rebels would continue as the reforms passed through Parliament.

Visiting a school to promote plans for more catch-up classes, Ms Kelly was asked if she would reconsider the Secretary of State's veto.

She said: "No. I think it is necessary. I also think it is something that the Local Government Association itself accepts as necessary - the Labour Group certainly.

"Colleagues are rightly asking me how that is going to work," she said.

Ms Kelly said she would "not intervene" where a good local authority with a good track record wants to set up a new community school.

The issue has been a key part of demands from the rebel Labour MPs for changes to the Government's school reforms.

Originally local authorities were to have been stripped of their powers to set up new schools.

But in a package of concessions earlier this year, Ms Kelly agreed to drop the idea but insisted on keeping the right to veto any new community schools.

Reports suggest between 40 and 50 Labour MPs are still prepared to vote against the Bill in the Commons when it is debated this week.

West Midlands Labour MPs who have expressed concern about the Bill include Lynne Jones (Birmingham Selly Oak), Richard Burden (Birmingham Northfield), Clare Short (Birmingham Lady-wood) and Ken Purchase (Wolverhampton North East).

Ms Kelly said: "I want to get this Bill through because it is a Labour Bill. I am confident that colleagues will unite around it. But over the next few days I will be talking to my colleagues, urging them to support the Bill," she said.

One leading critic of the reforms said Ms Kelly's refusal to consider dropping the veto was "not helpful".

David Chaytor, MP for Bury North, said it was still an important issue among back-benchers but was not likely to be the deciding factor on whether the Bill gets through with Labour support.

"At this stage the detailed education arguments are not the issue at all," he said.

The Prime Minister has already indicated that he is prepared to get the reforms through Parliament, if necessary relying on the support of the Conservative Party.

Tory leader David Cameron has said he will back the reforms even though they are only a "timid" step in the right direction.

Ms Kelly was speaking as she visited the Preston Manor High School in Wembley, north-west London, where she launched a review of the way teaching is tailored to the needs of individual pupils.

The Minister announced an expert review group to be chaired by Christine Gilbert, the chief executive of Tower Hamlets, and tasked with recommending how children should be taught in ability groups to help raise standards.

The package of education reforms includes moves to increase the use of small group tuition, such as catch-up classes for children who fall behind and extra tuition for the brightest students.