Overly academic timetables are forcing struggling Bexley pupils to “vote with their feet” and drop out of school for home education, a councillor has said.

It comes as new data shows a huge increase in the number of kids leaving mainstream education to be taught at home.

A recent borough snapshot showed the number of pupils leaving school between years 10 and 11 increased from 28 to 63 – a 125 per cent surge.

There are 228 children home-educated in Bexley, with the most common reason given as “dissatisfaction with school in general”.

Labour councillor Wendy Perfect said the big increase in the last two school years was down to students struggling with a curriculum that is “too academic”.

Cllr Perfect said at a council meeting on February 5: “Having worked in secondary school for four years I am not surprised at those figures.

“I think a big part of the problem is that lots of our low-ability students, or those who are struggling at home and then struggling at school, can’t engage with the curriculum. It’s far too academic for a lot of them.

“The only way this is going to change is if the curriculum changes.

MORE - Met Police using orders to stop 'county lines' runners leaving M25

“I think people would be shocked about what goes on in schools. I’ve sat for hours and hours in an English exam with students who can barely write three sentences, and maths exams where they can’t get past the first page.

“For me these young people are voting with their feet, they can’t engage with it so they don’t engage with it. They won’t jump through these hoops.”

Other reasons given are “moral and spiritual” grounds, or even to avoid prosecution for poor attendance or permanent exclusion.

There is no statutory duty for the council to monitor the quality of home education on a routine basis.

If a child is pulled from school, there are risks they are no longer supported properly, or that they will struggle to get good grades and subsequently a job.

Council bosses said it was not the job of the local authority to set the curriculum, but they were pushing for “flexibility”.

Simon James, deputy director for educational achievement at Bexley Council, said: “We are encouraging high levels of flexibility and particularly differentiation for example for children with special educational needs.

“The number of those children is going up. We are taking that extremely seriously, they are highly vulnerable people.

“And for the older age group, we are seeing nice examples of flexibility from colleges and post-16 providers.

“We are seeing bespoke programmes for young people who find access to mainstream curriculum difficult.

“We continue to encourage apprenticeships for those young people going forward.”

There has been a steep increase nationally in the number of kids being taught at home, with recent figures showing 52,000 children on the register.