Parents employing private tutors have no guarantee they are not leaving their children in the care of paedophiles, Birmingham's head of education warned last night.

Thousands of independent tutors are used by parents each week in the city to help get their children through 11-plus exams or teach them how to play musical instruments.

But Coun Les Lawrence (Con Northfield), cabinet member for education, warned a loophole in the system meant they were not checked like teachers for their suitability to work with youths.

"A lot of parents will use private tutors for additional support for their children around particular curricular items," he said.

"At the moment anyone can start up as a private tutor and offer their services. They are not required to have a Criminal Records Bureau certificate or a List 99 certificate.

"I would suggest to parents that if they use private tutors they have sight of the appropriate certificates to ensure they have had the appropriate checks."

Coun Lawrence's warning comes in the wake of the furore surrounding Education Secretary Ruth Kelly's admission that 88 sex offenders had been cleared to work in schools.

That followed revelations that Ms Kelly cleared known sex offender Paul Reeve to work as a PE teacher in a Norfolk school last year.

Coun Lawrence said parents who paid for extra tuition to boost opportunities for their children had a right to know they were leaving them in safe hands.

"To ensure peace of mind, parents who use private tutors should be able to check that they have the appropriate certificates," he said.

"Tutors would have to pay for that, but I would think anybody who wishes to undertake private tuition would want to do it simply because it allows them to be able to say they have had all these checks."

Ms Kelly last week vowed to strengthen procedures preventing child abusers working in schools.

She said anyone convicted or cautioned for a sex offence against a young person would be barred from working in schools for life.

The Government said it also plans to close the legal loophole that allows private tutors not to be checked. n Education chiefs said they need more time to uncover the extent to which Birmingham schools take poor-performing pupils off roll before their GCSE exams.

Councillors had expected answers to the trend, highlighted by The Birmingham Post, at a scrutiny meeting yesterday.

But Mike Yarnold, assistant director of education, said: "We might not be ready with all the information until March."