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Schools: Closures

Question for Department for Education

UIN 108607, tabled on 20 January 2022

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps his Department is taking to close full-time unregistered schools; and if he will give Ofsted greater powers to seize evidence, search premises, and close illegal operations in relation to unregistered schools.

Answered on

27 January 2022

​It is a criminal offence under Section 96 of the Education and Skills Act 2008 to conduct an unregistered independent school. The department and Ofsted will investigate any institution where intelligence or evidence suggest that this offence is being committed. Section 97 of the act permits no-notice inspections of education providers believed to be operating as an unregistered independent school.

​Between 1 January 2016 and 31 August 2021, Ofsted have investigated 850 education providers. These investigations have led to 412 inspections which have resulted in the identification of 114 unregistered schools. Joint work between the department and Ofsted has led to 101 of these providers changing their provision to cease operating unlawfully. In addition, since 2016, 6 successful prosecutions have been brought against groups responsible for operating illegal education providers.

The department has made public commitments to take forward measures to make it easier for Ofsted to investigate and gather evidence of breaches of section 96 of the Act and prosecute those responsible for running unregistered schools. These changes are intended to lead to the identification of greater numbers of unregistered schools. Such measures will be taken forward when a suitable legislative opportunity arises.