MP slams Thurrock Council’s "Big brother" approach to home-schooled children

A CONSERVATIVE MP has slammed Thurrock Council’s attitude towards parents who wish to educate their children at home

Chairman of the Education Select Committee, Graham Stuart MP, pin-pointed two councils, Thurrock and Wakefield in a report he has submitted to government.

His most worrying criticism is that parents who wish to home-school children appear to be under threat of their children being reported to social services.

Mr Stuart said: "The Content of Thurrock Council’s "Process for Elective Home Education misrepresent the duties and powers in relation to home education consistently and fail to give constructive support to parents".

He criticises the council for inferring that home education must be in some way sanctioned by the council and that parents may find themselves referred to social services.

He has demanded that Thurrock Council instructs its officers to alter work practices and has submitted the complaint to the Minister.

A spokesperson for Thurrock Council said: "Thurrock Council respects the right of parents to educate their children at home, should they choose to do so in line with national guidance for home education.

"There is also a duty on councils to satisfy themselves that children are receiving a suitable education and are safe from harm.

"The vast majority of parents who home educate are caring loving parents and there will be no concern at all.

The council’s policy was designed to be supportive to parents, while ensuring that where, in a small minority of cases, there were concerns about children’s welfare, support could be given.

"The council is happy to reword its policy to make this balance absolutely clear and is keen to work with parents who are choosing this form of education to help to reformulate the wording of our policy.

Writing on her website, Thurrock MP Jackie Doyle-Price said,

"I suspect that the intentions behind this are to encourage the educating of children in schools. That is quite reasonable but does not excuse what is a bullying approach to parents who wish to educate their children at home.

‘With 1 in 5 parents in Thurrock not getting their preferred schoolplace for their child some do consider home educating. Instead of applying this dictatorial heavy handed approach, the Council should be working more proactively with parents to given them access to the kind of education they want for their children.

‘I am pleased to have supported the creation of three new schools in Thurrock to expand parental choice. This is a far more effective way of getting children into schools than the ‘take what you are given’ attitude displayed by the council."

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