Ofsted fears over illegal schools across region
Illegal schools allegedly operating in the West Midlands are being probed by Ofsted.
The education watchdog has investigated 75 schools for allegedly operating illegally between January 2016 and December last year.
Of these, 35 were inspected in person and 12 warning notices were issued.
The number of investigations by Ofsted into premises in the West Midlands, including Staffordshire and Shropshire, is the most of any region outside London.
There is no breakdown of exactly where the schools are.
An unregistered, or illegal, school is defined as a setting operating as an independent school, without registration. It is a criminal offence to operate an unregistered independent school in England.
Ofsted’s deputy director in charge of the unregistered schools taskforce, Victor Shafiee, said: “We continue to have serious concerns about unregistered schools. As the 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.
“We need to make sure children are safe and receiving a good education that prepares them for life in modern Britain.
Ofsted will continue to do everything we can to investigate and inspect unregistered schools, and where necessary we will seek to prosecute those running them.”
Across the UK, between 2016 and 2018, Ofsted carried out 521 investigations leading to 71 warning notices.
Of these, 15 have closed their doors.
Liberal Democrat campaigner Ian Jenkins said: “Government ministers have a basic responsibility to ensure that children are kept safe, and yet despite warning after warning, they have dragged their feet on this very serious issue, leaving children in unregistered schools where they could be in harm’s way.”