Come the end of November, it will have been a year since the Government first opened discussions on plans to inspect out-of-school settings if they provide more than six hours of teaching a week. Their thinking being that all children in education need to be accounted for.
Parliament is still very much focused on pushing ahead with their plans to roll this inspection process out, but they still haven’t announced any findings from the public consultation which ended back in January.
First published in November 2015, it had laid out proposals for a new system for registering and inspecting education settings providing intensive tuition, training or instruction to children outside of school. It was thought that many religious centres would be primary focus, as well as supplementary schools and tuition centres.
The document invited all interested parties, including education providers, local authorities and families to respond to it to help gain valuable insights into the lives of those being educated alternatively.
But almost a year on, without any feedback, many have begun to worry over how they, and the children they teach, will be affected by any changes made to the current regime.
A lot can happen in a year and 2016 has been no exception. The UK has seen a new government come in. Theresa May has taken over from David Cameron as Prime Minister and Justine Greening has taken over from Nicky Morgan as Education Secretary.
And now their curiosity has peaked again at the news that a report on counter terrorism by the joint committee on human rights has come to light. It has revealed that the government remains committed to inspections of out-of-school settings even though some who, for example, conduct religious classes on a Sunday, would find it intrusive.
As a result the new Government is finding itself in a difficult position as it has also come under fire from others for not doing enough to keep children safe in out-of-school settings and who demand a more transparent approach to non-mainstream education.
The Department for Education is responsible for education, children’s services, higher and further education policy, apprenticeships and wider skills in England, and equalities. Their mission statement is to work to achieve a highly educated society in which opportunity is equal for all, no matter what their background or family circumstances.
If they want that to continue to be believed, they had better start discussing the future of every educational setting currently practicing.
Sarah Carlick, director and founder of The Athena Programme, set up to help young people and adults who are deemed at risk, says:
“We were told back in May this year that more children than previously thought were at risk of harm and indoctrination in this country. We’ve been told the number of illegal schools identified by the watchdog since the turn of the year had passed the 100 mark.
“We work with so many people in so many different social settings and all of them want answers. Our entire ethos at The Athena Programme is to train and educate others so that they feel confident and informed – how can we possibly achieve this in our educational settings if there is no information forthcoming. I strongly urge the Government to respond sooner rather than later”.