Update on Government Plans to Regulate "Intensive" Education Settings
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UPDATE DECEMBER 2ND 2018: CONSULTATION ON DRAFT VOLUNTARY SAFEGUARDING CODE OF PRACTICE FOR OUT OF SCHOOL SETTINGS, CLOSES FEBRUARY 24TH 2019.
UPDATE APRIL 2018: Government response to out of school settings call for evidence, April 10th, 2018.
The call for evidence received 3,082 responses via its online form, of which 54.7% were from faith groups. The Department also received over 15,000 representations via other methods including emails, letters and petitions.
In response to the question "Do you agree that intensive education is where a child attends a setting for more than between 6 to 8 hours per week?" 73% of respondents said no. To the question "Do you agree that settings meeting the proposed threshold should be required to register with their local authority?" 73.4% said no and many said that registration of out-of-school settings with the local authority would be equivalent to state regulation of religion. In response to the question "Do you agree that Ofsted should be able to investigate concerns that arise in out-of-school settings that meet the proposed threshold for registration?" 74.6% said no. To the question "Do you agree that the prohibited activities should focus on undesirable teaching, including teaching which undermines or is incompatible with fundamental British values, or which promotes extremist views, as set out in paragraph 3.19" 64.5% said no.
The government says "we have decided not to pursue the model proposed in our call for evidence [ie light touch registration 6+ hours a week settings] but instead intend to develop further the evidence base for a national approach, including future legislation where gaps in existing powers are identified..."
The government says it wants to "share and spread best practice across the country on how existing legal powers (including, for example, health and safety, premises regulations, and general safeguarding provisions) can be best utilised alongside community engagement and outreach to intervene where there are concerns about the welfare of children." The government will "consult on a voluntary code of practice, later this year, to set out clear standards for providers, explaining what they need to do in order to run a safe setting. This code of practice would cover what providers should be doing to meet their existing legal obligations that would be applicable generally, as well as setting out best practice on issues such as child welfare, health and safety, governance, suitability of staff, teaching and financial management."
Schools Week described this as "The government has abandoned an old proposal to force out-of-school settings to register following a fierce backlash from faith leaders."