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Last Updated: Wednesday, 23 February, 2005, 17:27 GMT
Home-taught girl ordered to class
The parents of a County Durham girl have been prosecuted for not giving her a proper education at home.

They have also been ordered to return the unnamed child to school after a case was brought by Darlington Local Education Authority (LEA).

As the law stands parents are entitled to teach their children at home, but Julie Garnett of the LEA fears some children are not being taught properly.

She also warned more prosecutions would follow if similar cases were found.

A spokesman for Darlington council said: "If you are going to educate a child at home you have to prove to the LEA that you are actually doing that.

"These parents did not do that, so were given a notice period to enrol their child at a school. They didn't do this, so action was taken."

The prosecution is one of the first of its kind in the north-east of England.

Children's rights

Currently, about 60 children in Darlington are known to be taught at home according to the council.

Under the law they do not have to follow the National Curriculum, sit exams or do coursework.

Ms Garnett, a welfare officer, provides support for parents who want their children to be educated at home.

She said: "Parents withdraw children from school for a range of reasons including cultural or they are dissatisfied with standards.

"But they have to provide an education which takes into account age, ability, aptitude and any special needs that the child may have.

"We carry out inspections, but we have no right of entry and expect the co-operation of parents.

"There will certainly be more court cases in future as children have the right to an education."

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