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Schools: Inspections

Question for Department for Education

UIN HL157, tabled on 7 January 2020

To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to remove the restriction on Ofsted's inspection of schools which teach for less than 18 hours a week.

Answered on

16 January 2020

Settings that only have pupils attending for less than 18 hours per week are not considered full time and are therefore not required to register as schools. As they are not registered as schools, such settings are not subject to inspection. In March 2018, the department published guidance setting out how the government, Ofsted and local authorities can work collaboratively to help ensure children attending unregistered schools and out-of-school settings are safe and are receiving a suitable education. This guidance is attached and can be found at the following link:

Part-time settings should be considered to be out-of-school settings, which the department currently defines as “any institution providing tuition, training, instruction or activities to children in England, without their parents’ or carers supervision, that is not a school, college, 16-19 academy or provider caring for children under 8 years old, which is registered with Ofsted or a childcare agency.” This covers a large, broad and diverse sector, ranging from: settings offering part-time or supplementary education to support mainstream or home education and religious settings offering education in their own faith, to extra-curricular clubs and activities, such as dance classes, sports tuition, as well as uniformed youth organisations.

In 2015, the government consulted on proposals to introduce a new system regulation of the sector. However, in 2018 following careful consideration of the large number of wide ranging views and representations received, the government decided not to pursue the model proposed, but to instead further develop the evidence base for a national approach, including future legislation where gaps in existing powers might be identified. In connection with this, the government is currently taking forward a package of measures aimed at enhancing the safeguarding of children in this sector, including the provision of £3 million of targeted funding, in 16 local authorities, to test different approaches to multi-agency working. This work will be used to inform best practice on how existing legal powers, held by local authorities and other agencies, such as the Police, Ofsted and the Charity Commission can best be used to intervene in settings of concern and to help inform the need for any further legislation.

Some part-time settings provide alternative provision which is commissioned by a school or local authority. Ofsted can look at such a part-time setting as part of an inspection of the commissioner. In all cases (whether commissioning a place for a child in care or any other child), the local authority or school acting as the alternative provision commissioner should assure themselves that the setting is registered where applicable and that the provision is delivered by high quality staff with suitable training, experience and safeguarding checks.