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UK News

Crackdown on unregistered schools could get in the way of Christian teachings, says education CEO

by Sophie Drew

Ofsted are set to be given more powers to close down "illegal" or unregistered schools. 

It's estimated that a fifth of these institutions are faith-based. 

Last year, the regulator warned that these institutions pose a huge threat to safety, welfare and education standards.

However - whilst some are in favour of further legislation to limit indoctrination and extremism, others suggest that Ofsted is gaining too much power, and limited accountability.

At present, Ofsted consider a full-time school to be one where students attend for more than 18 hours a week.

However, a number of unregistered institutions are purposely lessening their hours in order to fall below the baseline, meaning they do not have to teach a set curriculum. 

Steve Beegoo, CEO of the Christian School's Trust and head of education at Christian Concern, argues that many of the more concerning schools are already illegal via other legislation.

He suggests the new powers could limit families as they pass on their faith, and Christian teachings, to their children via homeschooling. 

He said: "There are clearly people who are not handling children appropriately or not handling children properly, but the huge increase that we're seeing is people taking their children out from the state school system to collaborate together, particularly from religious faith groups. 

"So I'm in touch with a number of, for example, home education groups, where they come together in various ways, and they do things together - so they're not that you're not isolated in their own little home, but they are actually connected up with others receiving education, sometimes were quite significant chunks of time. 

"Those places themselves could start to come under these new regulations, these new statutes and giving off the power potentially to turn up in people's homes to be able to suss out whether or not they really are teaching their children according to British values or not, which, again, that leads to all sorts of layers of concern."

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