The number of parents now home schooling in Southend has tripled in a remarkable rise.

There has been 48 new cases of home schooling recorded in the town, up from 16 the year before, with concerns surrounding Covid-19 cited as the reason behind the sharp rise.

Southend Council says the increase “is a reflection of the pandemic and parental concerns”. 

In response, the authority has launched a helpline for concerned parents as their children head back to the classroom.

Anne Jones, councillor in charge of children and learning, said: “As across the whole country, Southend saw a significant rise in the number of parents opting to electively home educate their children in the first two weeks of term, with 48 new cases compared to 16 the previous year. 

“This is a reflection of the pandemic and parental concerns, which is why we introduced the helpline.”

Parents across south Essex have expressed concerns about their children using crowded public transport to get to and from school.

Nichola Ansell is now considering home schooling her 11-year-old daughter Pippa-Rose as she is using a “crowded bus” to get to Basildon Lower Academy.

The 39-year-old, from Basildon, also has a son at Lincewood Primary School, in Laindon.

She explained: “They both come out at 3pm. I can’t be in two places at once.

“My daughter is using a bus and getting picked up by a friend but that can’t be a long term solution.

“I don’t want her catching anything on the bus.”

The mum added: “We were home-schooling during lockdown so we’ve done it before. 

“We bought in loads of books for her, she did really well.”

Mrs Jones added: “Each school in our borough carried out detailed risk assessments in advance of the students returning in September and the arrangements put in place for each school is under constant review, in case further changes need to be made. 

“I have complete faith that all staff in every school are doing all they can to protect the students, themselves and the wider community from COVID-19.”

Essex County Council was contacted for comment.