Out-of-school Education: Islam

Department for Education written question – answered on 28th April 2021.

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Photo of Lord Pearson of Rannoch Lord Pearson of Rannoch Non-affiliated

To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answers by Lord Agnew of Oulton on 4 February 2020 (HL646) and 13 February 2020 (HL1377 and HL1414) and by Baroness Berridge on 12 March 2020 (HL2002), and in pursuit of their anti-terrorism policies, what plans they have, if any, to allow Ofsted to inspect madrassas in the UK which provide teaching for fewer than 18 hours per week.

Photo of Baroness Berridge Baroness Berridge Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for International Trade) (Minister for Women), The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Education

As indicated in my answer to Question HL2002 on 12 March 2020, madrassas are generally considered to be out-of-school settings, which are not captured by a single dedicated regulatory framework, and therefore are not subject to inspections by Ofsted or the department.

However, as explained previously, the department is taking forward a package of measures to enhance safeguarding in out-of-school settings, safeguarding children from all forms of harm, including extremism and terrorism.

The main phase of this work concluded in March 2020. We are currently considering how the outputs can be used to help inform best practice on how existing legal powers, held by local authorities, the police, Ofsted and other departments and agencies, can best be used to address safeguarding and welfare concerns. We are also looking into what more we might need to do at a national level.

In addition to this, we have also published a voluntary code of practice for out-of-school setting providers, such as madrassas, to support them in understanding what they need to do to run a safe setting. This is available here: https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/keeping-children-safe-in-out-of-school-settings. Accompanying guidance for parents and carers is also available to help them make more informed choices when considering out-of-school settings for their children, including the red flags to look out for and what steps to take where they might have concerns.

As indicated in my previous answer, if the department became aware of a setting where children were at risk of harm, we would work closely with relevant agencies, such as the local authority, Ofsted or the police to take action.

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