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Council threaten court action against parents of Matilda child star, 12, for schooling her at home

  • Lilian Hardy, 12, played lead role at London's Cambridge Theatre for six months
  • Council heard of situation when play firm applied for child performance licence
  • Sent parents a school attendance order requiring information on her education
  • Failure to meet Westminster Council's demands could lead to fine or prosecution

Lilian Hardy, 12, who played the lead role at London's Cambridge Theatre for six months until September, has 'thrived' by being taught at home, according to her parents. She is seen in the play in an undated photo

Lilian Hardy, 12, who played the lead role at London's Cambridge Theatre for six months until September, has 'thrived' by being taught at home, according to her parents. She is seen in the play in an undated photo

A council has threatened court action against the parents of one of the child stars of the West End stage show Matilda for schooling her at home.

Lilian Hardy, 12, who played the lead role at London's Cambridge Theatre for six months until September, has 'thrived' by being taught at home, according to her parents, Edward Hardy and Eileen Tracy.

Westminster Council heard of Lilian's situation when Matilda's production company applied for a child performance licence following casting, prompting officials to send her parents a school attendance order.

This letter, seen by The Guardian, requires the couple to send Lilian to the local Westminster Academy within 15 days or prove she is receiving a sufficient education.

Failure to meet the demands could lead to a fine or prosecution.

Mr Hardy and Ms Tracy said they have sent plenty of evidence that Lilian is progressing well, including samples of her work, but officials have said this is not enough.

Ms Tracy said: 'If the state doesn't have evidence of a problem, as in our case, then it's really important that state officials don't have the power to intervene, so that children and their families can be left in peace to work their own magic.'

Westminster Council said: 'In Westminster, the majority of families meet with the home education adviser to discuss their education.

'Alternatively, parents have the option to provide endorsements from an education professional involved in the delivery of child's education.

'We have explained to Mr Hardy and Ms Tracy that we cannot solely rely on samples of their child's work to form a view about the suitability of their education.

'They unfortunately have also declined meetings and have not provided the endorsements we have sought. We remain keen to resolve this matter amicably.' 

It is legal for children of all ages to learn at home. Under the Education Act, it is the parent's duty to make sure their child receives a proper education.

Westminster Council heard of Lilian's situation when Matilda's production company applied for a child performance licence following casting. Pictured: Lilian as Matilda in an undated photo

Westminster Council heard of Lilian's situation when Matilda's production company applied for a child performance licence following casting. Pictured: Lilian as Matilda in an undated photo

Parents do not have to inform your local education authority if their child has never been a registered pupil at a state school (unless you live in Scotland where the law requires this information).

However, if they are withdrawing your child from a state school in England and Wales the head teacher must remove your child's name from the register and inform the LEA.

Parents who home school their children do not have to follow the National Curriculum. The Education Act states parents can educate their children as they wish and formal testing is not required.

Your local education authority may send an adviser at intervals to monitor your child's progress.

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