Councils failing to acknowledge illegal faith schools, Wilshaw says

Ofsted chief inspector Sir Michael Wilshaw has claimed that attempts to close and prosecute illegal faith schools are being hindered by councils concerned about upsetting community relations.

In an interview with The Times, Wilshaw warned that there were an increasing number of cases where councils were impeding on Ofsted inspector’s efforts to prevent children from being taught in unregistered schools.

So far, Ofsted has identified around 150-160 potentially illegal schools, which it has warned is just the ‘tip of the iceberg’.

Wilshaw commented: “Some of our lawyers are saying that our cases are very robust. But what the courts might say is that the local authority has been into some of these places but don’t want to upset community relations, so they ignore it. When push comes to shove, barristers are saying courts could say the local authorities didn’t find anything wrong with these places.

“They have to see this as a serious problem, identify where these places are and close them down.”

Currently regulations state that parents may educate their child at home or in another setting, but ultimately, a court must decide whether a school is illegal.

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