Ofsted will be given £400,000 in extra funding to investigate and help prosecute operators of "dangerous illegal schools", education secretary Gavin Williamson has announced today.
He also reiterated the Department for Education’s commitment to bring forward new legislation to strengthen the watchdog’s powers in this area.
Mr Williamson has pledged to continue to crack down on illegal schools to make sure "children are safe and not exposed to risky practices or extreme influences".
The department said the funding builds on £3 million invested since 2016 to fund a joint Department for Education and Ofsted team that has seen 72 illegal settings stop operating unlawfully and resulted in three prosecutions – leading to convictions on all three cases.
Ofsted crackdown on illegal schools
Mr Williamson said: "Unregistered schools present a serious risk to children. They often do not offer the kind of balanced, informative curriculum all schools should, and can expose pupils to dangerous and extreme influences.
"That’s why I am determined that anyone found to be running one faces the full force of the law. This extra investment in Ofsted will build on the £3 million we have already committed – and send a very strong message to illegal schools which continue to operate.
"We remain committed to strengthening Ofsted’s powers to make sure they can shut down illegal settings, and helping legitimate settings to make sure they know the rules."
The DfE has said it will now review and strengthen the legislation in place at the next opportunity.
Ofsted has said previously that it needs more powers to be able to investigate illegal schools.
From this month, inspectors visiting suspected illegal schools will be wearing body cameras to help them record evidence as a part of a new pilot project.
The DfE has also launched a consultation today seeking views on legislation which will require any setting attended full-time by children of compulsory school age to be registered with the department and meet the independent school standards.