THE parents of a little boy say he is being discriminated against by his school because they are not on benefits.

Cara McCormick tried to sign her son Thomas, six, up for reading, maths and homework clubs at Oliver Tomkins School but says he was turned down due to the fact that neither she nor his stepfather Steve are claiming benefits.

Steve said: “Last year he went to football club and other clubs. This year we put him down for four separate clubs but my partner got told that because we were not on benefits he could not go to any of them.”

The couple had put Thomas’ name down for computer information technology, homework, reading and maths.

“He is a bright lad and we just want him to get the best opportunities. It is bizarre. You want to give your kids as much of a boost as possible,” Steve said.

Cara said she had been encouraged to sign Thomas up for the sessions at the school in Toothill and thought everything was OK. But on Wednesday she received a phone call advising her that he wasn’t eligible because his parents were not claiming benefits.

“I was quite taken aback,” she said. “It is strange. If you want the best for your children and they are offering these clubs what is the difference?”

She said friend who had a grandchild at the school went to sign them up and had the same experience.

“It should be for all children, surely,” said Cara.

She said working people struggled as much as anyone to spend time helping their children with their education and she did not feel they should be excluded from such clubs because they had jobs.

“I thought those children would need it more because the parents tend to work long hours and don’t always have the time to sit down with their children,” she said.

“I feel there is discrimination.”

The couple from Freshbrook said they weren’t claiming anything apart from child benefit and working tax credit, although Steve was re-training as a gas engineer.

Steve, a qualified careers officer and former policeman, said: “I didn’t have those opportunities. I left school with nothing. But life has to be about opportunity and Thomas should have an opportunity. How can you penalise working families and their children?”

The school did not want to comment about the policy. Head teacher Rhian Cockwell would only say that she would be talking to Thomas’s mother about the issue.