To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they intend to take to strengthen Ofsted’s powers to prosecute and close illegal unregistered schools following comments by the Chief Inspector of Schools in her annual report that the current legislation is inadequate; and what guidance they will provide to local authorities regarding steps that can be taken against such schools using (1) health and safety provisions, and (2) child protection measures.
The department does not have primary legislation scheduled for this session, therefore the government has no current plans to change Ofsted’s powers in relation to the investigation of unregistered schools.
In January 2016 we announced that we were providing funding to Ofsted to establish a dedicated team of specialist inspectors to investigate such settings. The figures published in Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector’s annual report shows that the work of this team has been highly successful, but the figures also demonstrate that there are far fewer unregistered schools than many had believed to be the case. During a period of one and a half years, from January 2016 to August 2017, the Ofsted team found 38 unregistered schools to be operating; and the team was successful in getting 34 of those 38 to cease operating illegally. The remaining 4 were still under investigation as at August 2017.
The department, working with Ofsted and local authority Directors of Childrens Services, has been drawing up guidance for local authorities on how to tackle unregistered schools. We are expecting to be publishing this guidance in due course.