William Eichler 04 March 2016

Bradford accused of being in ‘denial’ over illegal schools

Bradford accused of being in ‘denial’ over illegal schools image

Ofsted has accused a council of being ‘naive’ when it comes to illegal schools which could be operating in its area, the Yorkshire Post reports.

Sir Michael Wilshaw, boss of the Office for Standards in Education, Children's Services and Skills, warned Bradford Council staff not to be ‘naive’ about how children are being educated and has asked for evidence on what ‘intelligence’ they’ve gathered on unregistered schools.

Naz Shah MP went further at a meeting between the council and Ofsted and accused the former of being in ‘denial’.

Ms Shah said: ‘Mr Wilshaw called it naivety. I feel that would be a nice way to put it. I would say that there’s some denial here.’

The meeting, the Post reports, also included discussions on standards, the Prevent counter extremism strategy and the levels of children missing from education.

Council leader David Green said: 'At the meeting with Sir Michael Wilshaw we were asked about whether there were any unregistered and illegal schools in Bradford. We are able to demonstrate that when we have been concerned, we have acted decisively.

'Currently we are not aware of any illegal schools but we are constantly striving to improve our intelligence in this area. It is good to assess with Ofsted how we can improve. Obviously if Ofsted identify areas for improvement we will act on their advice immediately.

'We have regular meetings with Ofsted, who have endorsed our plan for school improvement, and other partners to support our efforts to improve education for Bradford children and we welcome their challenge. We also work closely with supplementary schools, faith settings, the Police and other partners to ensure children attending them are safe.

'Councils nationally do have some difficulties in assessing independent schools and these need to be addressed by changes in national policy.'

Ofsted’s criticisms come shortly after a Department for Education consultation on children missing from education which proposed putting additional responsibilities on schools and councils for tracking and tracing children.

This provoked the Luton Borough Council chief executive Trevor Holden to respond: ‘It is the Secretary of State for Education who regulates independent schools and maintains a register of these … but local authorities have no jurisdiction over independent schools under the current system.

For more on independent schools from Trevor Holden, visit The MJ (£).

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