Ofsted: 95 warnings issued to unregistered schools

Ofsted has investigated more than 600 cases where there were concerns that unregistered schools were being run illegally

Unregistered schools: Ofsted has issued nearly 100 warnings to suspected illegal schools

Ofsted has issued almost 100 formal warning notices to suspected illegal schools in the past three years, new figures reveal.

The inspectorate has published figures today showing that since 2016 it has carried more than 600 investigations into reports of unregistered schools.

The data shows that the investigations have resulted in 293 settings being inspected by Ofsted teams.


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The majority of the unregistered schools – 75 per cent  – were not faith-based.

The data published today also shows that there are 23 ongoing investigations where Ofsted is trying to establish what type of provision is being offered.

Crackdown on unregistered schools

Last year the watchdog warned that inspection teams had found pupils being taught in "shocking and appalling" conditions at unregistered and illegal schools with open sewers, rat traps, exposed electrics and temporary buildings stacked on top of each other.

Updated figures published today show that there have been 95 warning notices issues by Ofsted following investigations into unregistered schools between January 2016 and the end of August last year.

In some cases an institution will get more than one warning notice. The statistics show that 83 institutions have been issued with notices.

Of these, 12 closed, 10 registered as schools and seven are still under investigation. However the majority of these institutions, (60 per cent)  "changed their service to comply with legislation".

In order for an institution  to be classed as a school there needs to be at least five children of compulsory school age attending and it needs to be based in a building.

It must also be offering “all or substantially all of a child’s education".

The Department for Education has issued guidance saying that 18 hours or more constitutes a full-time education.

Ofsted issues warning notices to institutions that it considers are operating an unregistered school and can seek to prosecute where these schools fail to comply.

The figures show that 28 per cent of unregistered school provided a general education and another 28 per cent were described as alternative provision.

Other unregistered schools were described as tuition centres, children’s homes, religious instruction, sports clubs and care farms. 

Last year Ofsted said its inspection teams needed more powers to investigate illegal schools. Ofsted launched a crackdown on unregistered  schools in 2016. 

In 2019 it helped secure the first prosecution for operators of an illegal school.

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John Roberts

John Roberts

John Roberts is North of England reporter for Tes