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Councils paying for thousands of children in ‘illegal schools’, Ofsted says

Ofsted has warned that local authorities are providing funding for children’s education in unregulated settings, after finding 6,000 children to date receiving education in suspected illegal schools.

The education inspectorate has called for tougher laws on tackling “illegal schools” which it says increases the risk of poor conditions and a lack of safeguarding.

Inspectors suggest up to 6,000 children are being educated in the unregistered settings in the locations it has inspected to date, with 23% of these locations in London.

In total, 71 settings have been issued with a warning notice by inspectors, and 15 of these have since closed whilst 39 have changed the way they operate to comply with the law.

An unregistered school is defined as a setting operating as an independent school but without registration which is a criminal offence in England.

Ofsted said these children are potentially at risk because there is no formal external oversight of safeguarding, health and safety or the quality of education provided.

Ofsted’s deputy director in charge of the unregistered school’s taskforce, Victor Shafiee, said: “We continue to have serious concerns about unregistered schools. As today’s data shows, this is not simply an issue with faith settings, nor is it limited to certain areas of the country.

“Unregistered schools come in many shapes and sizes, and not all of them are run with malicious intent. But all children deserve the best. These settings deny children a proper education and can leave them at risk of harm.

“The problem here is first and foremost about safeguarding. Many of these places are unsafe – with poor facilities and hygiene, badly trained or untrained staff, who may not have had any employment checks made on them, and little care for children’s health and well-being.”

Shafiee said Ofsted will continue to do everything it can to investigate unregistered schools and prosecute those running them where necessary, and that efforts need to be made to make sure children are safe and receiving a good education.

Image credit - courtneyk


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