Ofsted flags up problem of unregistered schools

16 May 16

Far more children are attending unregistered schools across England than previously thought, chief inspector of schools Sir Michael Wilshaw has warned.

In a letter to education secretary Nicky Morgan, the Ofsted head said that many of those running unregistered schools exploited weaknesses in rules around home education to operate on the cusp of the law.

This placed children at risk and undermined efforts to promote the government’s policy that schools should teach British values, he said.

The chief inspector told Morgan that a task force of seven specialists recruited in January had found more than 100 suspected unregistered schools.

This had reinforced his belief that many more children were in such schools and so “hidden away form the view of the authorities” than previously thought.

Warning notices were reissued to suspected illegal schools in London, Birmingham, Luton, Wolverhampton and Stoke-on-Trent, where some 350 children had been found.

Wilshaw warned that the visits made so far were likely to have found “only a small proportion” of unauthorised schools.

These schools exposed pupils to risk including from unsafe and unhygienic premises, extremism and radicalisation and from being taught by people not approved for work with children.

Lax rules on home education were being exploited to run these schools, which in some cases charged parents thousands of pounds in fees for a substandard education.

Wilshaw urged local authorities to act where illegal schools were found and to serve notices under the Education Act 1996 on the parents involved.

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