Ofsted chief says inspectors need greater powers to crack down on illegal schools because watchdog currently has ‘one arm tied behind our back’
- Chief inspector Amanda Spielman has urged the government to tackle the issue
- Spielman was speaking at the launch of Ofted’s annual report in London
- Ofsted’s new report says it has received referrals of about 480 suspected cases
- Investigations have been carried out in about 240 settings where it was believed an unregistered school was operating
Ofted’s chief inspector has called on the government to give them greater powers to crack down on illegal schools.
Amanda Spielman said a ‘legislative solution’ was needed to tackle the issue in a speech today.
At the launch of Ofsted’s annual report in London, the chief inspector said: ‘We’re fighting the problem with one arm tied behind our back.’
Ofsted chief inspector Amanda Spielman (pictured) said a ‘legislative solution’ was needed to tackle the issue in a speech today
Ofsted has some powers to intervene in education settings operating full-time as unregistered schools, but the organisation says current laws are ‘too weak’ to close places down or prosecute people running them.
The Department for Education provided funding to support the establishment of an unregistered schools taskforce in January 2016.
Ofsted’s new report says it has received referrals of about 480 suspected cases.
Investigations have been carried out in about 240 settings where it was believed an unregistered school was operating.
Courageous fireman crawls across breaking ice to rescue a…
Parliament vs May: Commons inflicts a string of defeats on…
Share this article
Ofsted said in some cases children were being taught by adults with ‘not even the most basic checks of their suitability’.
Buildings were found to be badly maintained, unsafe or ‘squalid’.
Inspectors believe some children are getting an education ‘not of the level that any child has a right to expect’.
‘We also know that some of these settings are operated by those with fundamentalist religious belief,’ wrote Ms Spielman in Ofsted’s report.
‘That means that children in these settings can also be at risk of radicalisation.’
In October, the first prosecution of an unregistered school was successfully brought against Al-Istiqamah Learning Centre in Ealing.
Inspectors found around 50 children being illegally taught.
Ofsted said that once it had detected illegal education settings, they either voluntarily chose to shut down or comply with the law.
Ofsted said in some cases children were being taught by adults with ‘not even the most basic checks of their suitability’
By August 2018, 13 had closed down, eight registered and 31 changed their service to meet legal requirements.
But Ofsted claims many institutions are ‘exploiting loopholes’ in the law and there is a lack of a ‘proper’ definition of what constitutes ‘full-time’, allowing providers to engage in a ‘cat and mouse’ game with inspectors.
In some faith settings, such as yeshivas and madrasas, children receive religious education for five or six days a week from early morning to late evening.
‘It is perverse that the narrower the curriculum provision, the safer such a setting is from prosecution,’ Ms Spielman wrote.
‘Without proper oversight we’ve no way of knowing if children are being exposed to abuse or radical and extremist views,’ she said at the report launch.
She urged parents not to let their children be educated in illegal settings, arguing that they ‘deserve better’.
In a green paper published in March this year the Government said it would be reviewing Ofsted’s powers in relation to unregistered schools.
Source: Read Full Article