Threat to parent-run school

21st January 2000 at 00:00
Hull Council has challenged rebels who refuse to send children to allocated secondaries, writes Esther Leach.

IT WAS lessons as usual this week for nine 11-year-old pupils at the makeshift school run by their parents, even though it now faces closure.

The seven girls and two boys settled down to a maths lesson in the small, cream-painted brick room in Derringham Bank Community Centre in west Hull, where they have been taught by their parents since September.

One of the parents, Tracy Shreeve, 32, who teaches maths, held a letter from Hull City Council, which said the centre was in breach of its tenancy rules

The warning letter from deputy education director Simon Gardner says the centre must produce proof of police checks on those teaching the children, insurance cover, and health-and-safety measures, otherwise its future will be uncertain.

"I think it's an appalling thing to do," said Mrs Shreeve, whose daughter Emma, is a pupil at the community centre. "We have launched a petition as our first reaction but we don't know what will happen next.

"I would love Emma to go to a full-time school but I won't send her to the one allocated by the education authority.

"The standard of education and behaviour at that school is not what I want for my daughter. Other parents here feel the same about other schools and we have got together to teach our childen ourselves.

"It's been a struggle and it's a lot of hard work but it's worth it. I tell my daughter the lesson she is learning here is that we value her education.

"She wants to be a solicitor one day but she will not get the grades at a school where I think the behaviour of pupils is unacceptable and staff don't seem to care."

Chris Jarvis, an independent Labour councillor who runs the community centre, offered parents, with the agreement of the centre's committee, a room to teach their children.

He said he believed the council's threat was probably the first of a series of attempts to close the parent-run school. "If we manage to deal with this situation this week the council will find something else the next week, and the next week and the next. It is determined to close the school.

"The council won't even speak to the parents. Why shouldn't parents be able tell a council its schools are no good."

A Hull spokeswoman said: "In the interests of the children and young people who are using the Derringham comunity centre as a school, three areas of concern have been raised to which we are seeking a response.

"These legitimate areas of concern are health safety, police vetting of adults working with children, and public liability and accident insurance for parents and children. We have asked for a response within the next seven days."

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