Ofsted inspectors visiting suspected illegal schools will wear body cameras to record evidence in a new pilot project, it has been revealed.
The plan to bring in the cameras from next month has emerged in changes to Ofsted’s inspection handbook for unregistered schools.
The inspectorate has issued almost 100 formal warning notices to suspected illegal schools in the past three years, recent figures revealed.
And since 2016 it has carried out more than 600 investigations into reports of unregistered schools.
However, Ofsted has also said in the past that it needs more powers to be able to investigate and collect evidence at suspected illegal schools.
Change to handbook
In a new change to its inspection handbook, Ofsted has said that from next month inspectors will use body warn video cameras.
The handbook says that: “Inspectors will inform individuals that they encounter that they are using body worn video cameras.”
Footage will be stored securely and will be deleted after 10 working days unless a warning notice is issued to the setting that they are running an unregistered school.
If this is the case the footage will be kept until a decision is taken on whether or not to prosecute the operators of the illegal school.
An unregistered school is defined as a setting that is operating as an independent school, without registration. It is a criminal offence to operate an unregistered independent school in England.
However, to be required to register as a school, a setting must be providing full-time education to at least five children of compulsory school age, and offer a curriculum that includes maths and English.
Government guidance suggests a full-time education is anything above 18 hours a week.