The number of children who have left Thurrock schools to be home-schooled has doubled since 2013, the Gazette can reveal.

Figures released following our freedom of information request show that the number of pupils being home-schooled increased from 162 in 2013, to 323 in 2017 – a rise of 49 percent.

Of the 323 in home-schooling, 290 have been recorded as having left school due to “parental choice”, but there are no details which have been released to explain what factors may have led to that choice being made Admissions issues were the reason for 21 children to be home-schooled and seven youngsters were pulled out of school as a direct result of bullying – this is an increase from six in 2013.

Sue Bell, founder and clinical director at the Essex youth organisation, Kids Inspire, said: “With one in three mental health problems stemming from traumatic experiences in childhood – for example bullying or other forms of abuse – the result can often be anxiety or depression.

“There are a variety of reasons why young people are being home-schooled, one of which could be a result of bullying and parents choosing to deal with the presenting problems away from school.

“We currently support some young people, and their families, that are being home-schooled.

“Our support is offered to them following, for example, a referral for challenging behaviour, anxiety or depression.”

When the figures are compared to the rest of the county, the number of children home-schooled in Thurrock in 2017 is equal to 43 percent of the total number of children being home-schooled across the county.

The figures released by the county council show that 750 children are currently being home schooled in Essex.

This figure excluded the unitary authorities of Southend and Thurrock.

The chairman for the Essex Safeguarding Children Board has expressed concern that nationally some parents have been encouraged to take their children out of school because they are difficult to control.

He also said he there is a “significant risk” to parents taking a child out of school.

James Halden, councillor responsible for education, spoke of the high Ofsted ratings to be found across the borough, as well as the large majority of students getting a spot in one of their top three preferences.

He said: “Firstly it’s important to point out that we have a strong education market for parents to choose from.

“In terms of school places, 99 per cent of children starting primary school and 91 per cent of pupils starting secondary school were offered one of their top three preferences this year.

“The overwhelming majority of our schools are good or outstanding.

“Our home education consultant and other services also continue to provide advice and support to families who have opted to home educate.

“The home-schooling figures can be effected by a wide array of factors.

“For example, we have a very large number of families that move into Thurrock outside of normal school application time and thus it’s not always the easiest job to place people straight away.

“We are working day and night with partners to deliver plans to invest more than £70million in creating about 3,500 new school places in the coming years.”