A growing number of private religious schools are “deliberately flouting British values and equalities law”, Ofsted has said.
According to the watchdog, illegal schools are also being created to avoid teaching the “fundamental values of democracy, mutual tolerance and respect” required in registered schools.
Statistics in Ofsted’s annual report show that 26 per cent of small private faith schools inspected by the watchdog are rated ‘inadequate’, while 22 per cent are ‘requires improvement’.
Of 140 small Muslim private schools inspected by Ofsted as of August, 28 per cent are ‘inadequate’ and 30 per cent ‘requires improvement’. Among Jewish private schools, 38 per cent are ‘inadequate’, compared with 18 per cent of Christian schools.
According to Ofsted, some of the weaker faith schools fail on the new standards for fundamental British values, but also on leadership and management.
Ofsted and Department for Education specialists said last month that small private schools often fail Ofsted inspections because their leaders are under-qualified and don’t know how to improve teaching, rather than causing concerns over British values.
Ofsted has also been tasked by the Department for Education to investigate illegal schools. The team has been handed around £2 million in funding since its inception.
By July this year, the taskforce had issued 38 warning notices to schools, resulting in 27 being closed or reformed. Four refused to comply, leading Ofsted to prepare to prosecute them.
Andrew Copson, chief executive of Humanists UK, said he was pleased that Ofsted was taking the issue “increasingly seriously”.
“For far too long now illegal schools have been operating with impunity, due to a lack of powers for Ofsted to do anything about them. These schools often provide no education in English, maths, or science. It is far past time that action is taken.”