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The UK’s Office for Standards in Education (Ofsted) identifies one of the biggest threats to students is when religious faith is pushed on them through unregistered schools. In the letter Chief Inspector Amanda Spielman listed the main areas of concern such as the narrowing of the curriculum, illegal unregistered schools, importance ofsupporting head teachers from outside pressures, domestic abuse and neglect of children. Unregistered schools include much alternative provision (AP), which does not always have to be registered and therefore is subject to no independent scrutiny — despite the fact that a lot of AP caters for some of our most vulnerable children.
Amanda Spielman gives the three main risks Ofsted inspectors have identified to pupils in unregistered schools:
- First, the very narrow education being taught: some of these schools are giving a predominantly or exclusive religious education. I am greatly concerned that these children are not being prepared for life in modern Britain.
- Secondly, the threat of exposure to extremism: in some schools we see extremely worrying material. This material has been found in poorly performing registered independent schools and even in a maintained community school, but also in unregistered schools, where our powers to tackle it are far more limited. We have, for instance, found books that say it is acceptable for men to use physical violence against their wives, texts that say it is unacceptable for women to refuse sex to their husbands and literature calling for the death of gay people. These texts have no place in young people’s education.
- And, finally, the ability to hide child abuse: anywhere where there is not adequate scrutiny of adult engagement with children, there is the risk of child abuse. When children are educated in a mainstream school, any adult coming into contact with those children has been vetted and must follow clear safeguarding procedures. This is not always the case in unregistered schools.
There is also one more problem. Actually, according to the letter some parents use home education as a disguise to allow them to use illegal schools or to evade the scrutiny of public services. On the other side, sometimes these parents do not have the capacity to provide a good standard of education. As Patheos reports, it is illegal for schools to operate unregistered in the UK; but it’s not only Christian schools getting busted. Two years ago, an unregistered school for Orthodox Jews was also investigate.