SOME parents who want their children to be home-educated are doing it for “selfish” reasons, according to an East Lothian councillor.

Councillor Sue Kempson described home-schooled youngsters as the “forgotten children” as she supported East Lothian Council’s “robust” approach to flexi-schooling.

She was speaking as Fiona Robertson, the council’s head of education, revealed that six families had requested flexi-schooling this year, with only one application granted.

Mrs Robertson told a meeting of the education committee that some of the reasons behind the requests included “lifestyle choices, such as wanting to spend more time as a family”, health issues and a dissatisfaction with the Scottish education service.

Flexi-schooling, where a child can be removed for part of the week, is only granted by East Lothian Council in exceptional circumstances and Mrs Robertson said requests were considered on a “case by case” basis.

Councillor Kempson backed the council’s policy, saying: “Having been faced with parents in surgeries who have requested flexi-schooling, I have been appalled by the selfishness of some parents who consider their own needs ahead of their children. I have been horrified by parents using their child for their own needs and not considering the child.

“I welcome the robust approach.”

However, Councillor Neil Gilbert told the committee that the approach taken by East Lothian was not popular, with other local authorities more willing to allow parents to opt for flexi-schooling.

He said: “The perception of East Lothian from the outside is that we are closed and shut off to the idea.”

Mrs Robertson told the committee that while children who were flexi-schooled remained on school rolls, children who were home-schooled were only registered with the council if they had previously attended classes. If they had always been home-schooled or attended an independent school beforehand, they would not be on any council register.

She said: “We only have records of children who were registered at one of our schools and then withdrawn for home schooling. A family could move to East Lothian with children already being home-schooled and we would have no contact with them.”

She added she had raised concerns on this in the past.

Children who are on the local authority register receive annual checks.

East Lothian Council currently has 13 children on its register as being home-schooled, though these are only a percentage of all those who are home-schooled.

Councillor Kate Mackie described the situation as a “major area of concern”.

The council is set to review its guidelines for children educated at home.