Question to the Department for Education:
To ask Her Majesty's Government what estimate they have made of the number of children who have been subjected to (1) serious abuse, or (2) corporal punishment, in (a) unregistered, or (b) illegal, religious schools since 2013.
Any educational institution which provides full-time provision to 5 or more pupils of compulsory school age (or one or more pupils of compulsory school age who is ‘looked after’ or has an education, health and care plan) is required to register with the Secretary of State for Education as a school. It is a criminal offence under section 96 of the Education and Skills Act 2008 to conduct an independent educational institution unless it is registered.
The existing definition of full-time education does not capture education providers which offer only a narrow curriculum even if this teaching takes place throughout all, or most, of the school day.
The consultation on regulating independent educational institutions included proposals to consider how to expand on the categories of full-time institutions that will be regulated in the same way that independent schools are currently regulated, and to change the definition of independent schools in primary legislation to incorporate such education providers. Taking forward the proposals would bring a range of currently unregistered institutions under the independent education regulatory regime.
The government remains committed to changing the law on the registration of independent educational institutions. We repeated that commitment in the department’s evidence to the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse, and we welcomed the recommendation when the report was recently published.
Publication of the response to the regulating independent educational institutions consultation is expected in early 2022.
The department has not made any estimate of the number of children attending or who have left unregistered schools. Those conducting an unregistered school are committing a criminal offence and they do not generally inform the department about the school’s operation. The same principle applies to the number of children who have suffered serious abuse or corporal punishment at an unregistered school.