COUNCILLORS have expressed "grave concerns" over the authority's lack of power to make sure home schooled children are receiving a good education.

The numbers of children taken out of school by parents wanting to educate them at home has surged in recent years, and on Wednesday Bradford Councillors were given more details of the issue in the district.

Members of the Council's Children's Services Scrutiny Committee were discussing children missing from education, and the conversation soon turned to the high numbers of children receiving "elective home education."

Members were given a list of which school the 530 children being registered as being home schooled, as of last month, attended before switching to elective home education.

The school with the highest number of children leaving for home schooling was Tong Leadership Academy, which has seen 33 pupils leave. Hanson School in Swain House had 18 pupils opt to instead have elective home education.

They were also given a breakdown of the age of pupils when they left for elective home education. The highest number of pupils left to be home schooled later into their school life, with 124 out of the 530 pupils leaving in Year 11, and 84 in Year 10.

Mariam Haque, deputy director of Children's Services said: "The Council has very little intervention powers. I know this is a high profile topic, but that is something I need to make clear. As a council we are very limited in how we can intervene.

"All local authority officers will share my frustration in this."

She said because of these limited powers, and the fact that some families don't register when they home school children, there was no way to know that exact number of children in the district who were being educated at home.

The committee was told that the Council had to ensure children had a "suitable education", the definition of what constitutes a suitable education has not been defined.

Councillor David Ward questioned why some schools saw large numbers of children being taken of the rolls, adding: "I find it inconceivable that all the sudden there is a radical change in philosophical and lifestyle choices by so many families at one particular school."

Alina Khan, strategic manager for education safeguarding, said: "Sometimes there are misconceptions about being home education, such as going off the rolls will help get you a place at Bradford College. It isn't true, but once a misconception like that gets out, it spreads."

She said some families took children out of school because they have "fallen out" with the school, that they may be trying to avoid paying fines for poor attendance, or that they are not allocated their first choice school.

Others felt they were able to offer better education that the school.

The committee resolved to express "grave concerns regarding the lack of intervention powers available to councils." They also noted their concerns about the safety and quality of education received by children getting home education.