Registration + Inspection Out of School Settings Wales

Legal references on this page apply to Wales.

Registration + Inspection Out of School Education Settings Wales

Part time independent education settings operating in Wales, variously known as supplementary schools, complementary schools, tuition centres, learning centres, part-time schools, or learning clubs, are not currently required to register because they do not meet the independent schools criteria.

The Welsh Government wants this to change and for there to be "a proportionate system of oversight." This is NOT about regulating home education as such. The consultation CLOSED April 5th 2016.

NEW BLOG POST MARCH 30TH 2016 LINK

My consultation response is here

  • which settings should be regarded as "eligible"
  • whether the number of hours (6 for a child in any given week) is right
  • whether this should extend to holiday provision
  • whether particular settings should be excluded (learning offer, location, number or age of children attending)
  • how to ensure settings don't just adjust their arrangements to stay outside the rules
  • umbrella bodies and organisations which already support this sector
  • which body is best placed to undertake the investigation function
  • the most appropriate sanctions
  • which body/bodies should have powers to act
  • whether existing levers and powers should be strengthened

Compare this with recent activity in England (and also the parliamentary backlash) dealing with the same area.

Consultation Questions

Question 1 ‒ Characteristics (see paragraphs 6.1–6.3 of the consultation document) We would like to know more about the full range of settings and their characteristics: the number of settings in each local authority; hours of operation per week; hours each student attends per week; number of staff/volunteers; number of students; the types of premises they operate from; subjects taught; and the positive benefits of accessing such provision.

6.1 Children attend a wide range of out-of-school settings to access educational support in a range of core curriculum subjects, for a faith-based or cultural education or for enrichment activities. A great many out-of-school settings will be providing an invaluable service to children in their area and the community as a whole.
6.2 We are aware that settings vary considerably – for example around their size, their subject offer, their teaching methods and languages of instruction, whether run for profit or by community and/or voluntary organisations, their physical location (whether formal or informal, whether in leased premises or in a residential setting) and so on. For the avoidance of doubt we do not intend to legislate in respect of home education. However, if a person is providing education in a home setting to children other than those for which they have parental responsibility we do propose that such arrangements could fall within this scheme. We would like to know more about the full range of settings and their characteristics; the number of settings in each local authority; hours of operation per week; hours each student attends per week; numbers of staff/volunteers; numbers of students; the types of premises they operate from; subjects taught; and the positive benefits of accessing such provision.
6.3 We are aware that many settings are part of a wider association or umbrella body which can provide basic safeguarding standards to which to adhere. Many settings will also subscribe to local or national voluntary accreditation schemes to provide parents with confidence in the provision. We are keen to understand more about what advice and assistance is available to settings to provide support where needed, and what additional support would be welcome.

Question 2 ‒ Characteristics (see paragraphs 6.1–6.3 of the consultation document ABOVE) We are keen to understand more about what advice and assistance is available to settings to provide support where needed, and what additional support would be welcome.

Question 3 ‒ Thresholds (see paragraphs 7.1–7.5 of the consultation document) We welcome views on defining a threshold for settings to fall within scope of this proposal with reference to the number of hours which children attend, regardless of the number of hours the setting operates.

7.1 Wherever children access learning, particularly where they spend a lot of time in an out-of-school setting, we want to be confident that they are safe and are being taught in a way which prepares them for life in a modern and tolerant Wales and to actively contribute to society. We want to be sure that teaching is compatible with and does not undermine our long held values of mutual respect and tolerance. We want to be proportionate in our approach to securing oversight in out-of-school settings. This is why we propose to focus resources on where children receive intensive tuition, instruction or training out-of-school which are closer in nature to other regulated settings and which potentially have greater impact on children, and might pose a greater risk to children.
7.2 We’re currently considering that intensive education to be anything which entails an individual child attending a setting for 6 hours or more per week, bearing in mind that this could be over an hour every day after school, or on one or both days of the weekend. Some children are also accessing part-time schools or tuition centres in place of mainstream school for between 2 to 5 hours a day during the week, where they gain much of their education in mainstream curriculum subjects. We are aware that some settings do not operate on a regular weekly basis, but might establish themselves to provide ‘intensive’ education but less frequently, or for a fixed period of time, for example during school holidays or in the run up to exams. We propose such settings to come within scope.
7.3 Independent schools are required to register with the Welsh Government which involves meeting regulatory standards including around the quality of education provided; welfare, health and safety of pupils; suitability of proprietors and staff; and school premises. Independent schools are also subject to routine inspections. The proposed threshold would capture a number of settings which do not meet the requirements for registering as independent schools, but which provide education, whether in a broad or narrow range of subjects often in support of home education. Some private providers of alternative provision may also be captured by this threshold and we propose to exclude those settings that cater exclusively for children who have been referred to them by local authorities and schools. This is on the basis that schools and local authorities are responsible for quality assuring alternative provision in their areas and for ensuring that children are placed in the right provision.
7.4 We welcome views on defining a threshold for settings to fall within scope of this proposal with reference to the number of hours which children attend, regardless of the number of hours the setting operates. This may include settings which provide intensive education for a set period of time, such as in school holidays, rather than all year round. We would also welcome views on whether it would be appropriate to exclude any providers from the proposed additional oversight and regulation based on any of the other defining characteristics of the setting (e.g. the learning offer, location, number or age of children attending, etc.), and opinions on how to ensure settings do not simply amend their provision to evade regulation.
7.5 We will seek to ensure that our threshold is proportionate and that it can be varied over time to respond to any emerging or changing risks.

Question 4 ‒ Thresholds (see paragraphs 7.1–7.5 of the consultation document ABOVE) We welcome views on whether it would be appropriate to exclude any providers from the proposed additional oversight and regulation based on any of the other defining characteristics of the setting (e.g. the learning offer, location, number or age of children attending, etc.), and opinions on how to ensure settings do not simply amend their provision to evade regulation.

Question 5 ‒ Registration and inspection (see paragraphs 8.1–8.8 of the consultation document) We are interested in views about how the registration requirement will operate in practice and the implications for providers and local authorities.

8.1 A registration scheme provides transparency and visibility of settings which in turn can benefit both the provider and parents who send their children to these settings. Information on the setting would be publicly available and accessible to parents, which has the potential, particularly for small local providers, to increase the demand for their services. Parents of children who attend these settings will have increased confidence that, where there are welfare concerns, actions can be taken.
8.2 Any setting meeting the threshold would be required to register with their local authority and would be subject to investigation where concerns were reported and if appropriate intervention. Local authorities would have access to information on registered settings operating in their area enabling them to collaborate with and better support providers by offering or signposting them to advice, guidance and training. This may also support local authorities and Safeguarding Children Boards in fulfilling their legal duties in safeguarding children bin their area
8.3 We recognise that this would create a new burden on providers, many of which may be small and run by volunteers. We would ensure the registration requirement would be light touch where settings would provide basic details on the proprietors, location, education offer and numbers of children. We do not believe this will be onerous as we would expect all settings would have the required information readily available in any event. We are considering the merit of creating a portal to facilitate registration which would have the benefit of ensuring settings provide information in a consistent format.
8.4 As noted the registration process itself is anticipated to be light-touch and straightforward with no minimum pre-conditions, but there would be an expectation that new providers register before operating. Existing eligible out-of-school settings would be given a reasonable period within which to register. There will be no fee for registering. Providers operating below the determined hours’ threshold would not be required to register, although we will consider whether there is scope for them to do so on a voluntary basis to both raise their profile and potentially access additional support being provided in their area. Such providers operating below the threshold would not be subject to any inspection.
8.5 We are interested in views on how the registration requirement will operate in practice and the implications for providers and local authorities.
8.6 We welcome views on which body is best placed to undertake the investigation function for out of school settings. We recognise the need to ensure that the investigating body has the necessary powers, as well as sufficient and appropriate resources, to carry out this role.
8.7 It is proposed that inspections will be risk-based, with the trigger either being in response to specific concerns raised by children, parents and the community, or by the inspection body sampling particular settings, whether by type or regions. There would be no routine inspection of all providers that meet the threshold for registration; nor would there be an assessment of the quality of education or judgement of the standards of teaching. This risk-based approach is targeted, proportionate and focuses on those settings where there are concerns about failure to safeguard and promote the welfare of children.
8.8 We are keen to hear views on the proposed system to inspect and investigate concerns in out-of-school settings

Question 6 ‒ Registration and inspection (see paragraphs 8.1–8.8 of the consultation document ABOVE) We would be keen to hear views on our proposed system to inspect and investigate concerns in out-of-school settings.

Question 7 ‒ Registration and inspection (see paragraph 8.6 of the consultation document) We welcome views on which body is best placed to undertake the investigation function for out-of-school settings.

8.6 We welcome views on which body is best placed to undertake the investigation function for out of school settings. We recognise the need to ensure that the investigating body has the necessary powers, as well as sufficient and appropriate resources, to carry out this role.

Question 8 ‒ Prohibited activities (see paragraphs 9.1–9.3 of the consultation document) We welcome views on whether the proposed prohibited activities appropriately capture the range of concerns that could arise and that should be reported and investigated in settings providing intensive education.

9.1 We expect all settings providing services to children to act in the best interests of children and provide high quality services in a safe environment. Safeguards are already in place in schools and in childcare provision to ensure children are kept safe and there are standards for schools around both the quality of teaching and the spiritual, moral, social and cultural development of pupils. We want to be proportionate in our approach to ensuring eligible out-of-school settings provide a safe environment. We would be clear about a set of activities that would be prohibited in out-of-school settings that met the threshold for registration. Concerns raised about any of these prohibited activities could be reported to the investigative body and inspection could result in action being taken.
9.2 Based on the concerns that have been previously raised about out-of-school settings, we propose that the prohibited activities would be focussed around the following areas, designed to keep children safe and promote their welfare:

  • Failure to adequately ensure the safety of the children in their care, for example, failing to maintain basic records and emergency contact details for the children in attendance.
  • Appointing unsuitable staff. Teaching, if not supervised, falls within the definition of ‘regulated activity. For example, it is an offence to knowingly permit individuals who are barred from working with children to engage in regulated activity, or to work in regulated activity while barred.
  • Accommodating children in premises that are unsafe and pose a threat to their safety or welfare.
  • Undesirable teaching, for example teaching which undermines or is incompatible with our values of mutual respect and tolerance, or which promotes extremist views* [* Footnote: 'Extremism is defined in the UK Government’s Counter-Extremism Strategy as the vocal or active opposition to our fundamental values, including democracy, the rule of law, individual liberty and the mutual respect and tolerance of different faiths and beliefs']

(The Home Office published a Counter Extremism Strategy in October 2015, which set out four key areas: Countering extremist ideology; Building a partnership with all those opposed to extremism; Disrupting extremists; and Building more cohesive communities. This document said "there is little regulation or oversight of supplementary schools and tuition centres and limited information on the practices within them. Reports indicate that in some settings parents do not know what their children are being taught or feel unable to challenge the teaching [my emphasis]; and pupils may be at risk of being presented with, and believing, twisted interpretations of their religion. These issues heighten the potential risks for such settings to be exploited by extremists.")

  • Corporal punishment. We propose to ensure that corporal punishment is not a practice adopted in eligible out-of-school settings
9.3 We welcome views on whether these prohibited activities appropriately capture the range of concerns that could arise and that should be reported and investigated in settings providing intensive education.

Question 9 ‒ Sanctions (see paragraphs 10.1–10.3 of the consultation document) We welcome views on the most appropriate sanctions and which body/bodies should have powers to act.

10.1 Where an investigation finds evidence of prohibited activities, this will trigger intervention and the application of sanctions as appropriate. Sanctions would include, in particular:

  • Powers to stop people from working with children in, or managing, an out-of school setting, along the lines of existing powers to bar teachers and governors in schools; and
  • Powers to require premises that pose the greatest safeguarding risk to children to cease to be used for specified purposes.
10.2 We anticipate relying on existing levers and powers where they are available. For example, if criminal activity was found, this would be referred to the police; and health and safety concerns would be referred, in the first instance, to the local authority. However, a referral in these terms may result in further action being taken to secure the immediate safety of the children concerned by deploying the new proposed powers. A failure to register where the threshold is met would be grounds for taking action.
10.3 We welcome views on the most appropriate sanctions and which body/bodies should have powers to act. We are also keen to hear views on whether existing levers and powers should be strengthened.

Question 10 ‒ Sanctions (see paragraph 10.3 of the consultation document) We would be keen to hear views on whether any existing ‘levers and powers’ should be strengthened.

10.3 We welcome views on the most appropriate sanctions and which body/bodies should have powers to act. We are also keen to hear views on whether existing levers and powers should be strengthened.

Question 11 ‒ We have asked a number of specific questions. If you have any related issues which we have not specifically addressed, please use this space to report them.

Independent schools in Wales are schools providing FULL TIME education to 5 or more children of compulsory school age, or one such child with a statement of special educational needs or who is looked after by the local authority [LINK]

Not Home Education By Parents

1.7 For the avoidance of doubt, it is not proposed to regulate the education that parents provide in their own homes to their own children or to require those parents who provide such education to register (“home education”). However, we propose that settings which provide education outside of school in support of home education would fall within the scheme."

If a person is providing education in a home setting to children other than those for which they have parental responsibility we do propose that such arrangements could fall within this scheme."

More about home education in Wales here

The settings the Welsh Government wants to register are those which provide ‘intensive’ tuition, training or instruction to children up to the age of 19 for a specified number of hours per week. Intensive tuition is defined as somewhere an individual child attends for 6 hours or more a week.

The 6 hour threshold could be "varied over time to respond to any emerging or changing risks" and it won't have to be every week or even the majority of weeks in the year.

6 Hours, Number of Weeks

"7.2 We’re currently considering that intensive education to be anything which entails an individual child attending a setting for 6 hours or more per week, bearing in mind that this could be over an hour every day after school, or on one or both days of the weekend. Some children are also accessing part-time schools or tuition centres in place of mainstream school for between 2 to 5 hours a day during the week, where they gain much of their education in mainstream curriculum subjects. We are aware that some settings do not operate on a regular weekly basis, but might establish themselves to provide ‘intensive’ education but less frequently, or for a fixed period of time, for example during school holidays or in the run up to exams. We propose such settings to come within scope."

The Welsh Government says that out of school education settings can create a positive environment for children to flourish, engage in new opportunities, and interact with their peers.

However, children MIGHT be being indoctrinated or taught to be intolerant of other faiths and beliefs, or activity could take place on unsafe premises, or corporal punishment might be used. In addition, staff might not necessarily have had background checks.

The Welsh Government is therefore proposing that "eligible out of school education settings" would be required to register, and there would be a power for "a body" to carry out inspections "to ensure that children are being properly safeguarded and their welfare suitably promoted."

There would be sanctions which could include barring individuals from working with children and the closure of premises.

Light Touch Registration

8.2 Any setting meeting the threshold would be required to register with their local authority and would be subject to investigation where concerns were reported and if appropriate intervention. Local authorities would have access to information on registered settings operating in their area enabling them to collaborate with and better support providers by offering or signposting them to advice, guidance and training. This may also support local authorities and Safeguarding Children Boards in fulfilling their legal duties in safeguarding children in their area.

8.3 We would ensure the registration requirement would be light touch where settings would provide basic details on the proprietors, location, education offer and numbers of children. We do not believe this will be onerous as we would expect all settings would have the required information readily available in any event. We are considering the merit of creating a portal to facilitate registration which would have the benefit of ensuring settings provide information in a consistent format.

8.4 There would be an expectation that new providers register before operating. Existing eligible out-of-school settings would be given a reasonable period within which to register. There will be no fee for registering.

Risk-Based Inspection

8.7 It is proposed that inspections will be risk-based, with the trigger either being in response to specific concerns raised by children, parents and the community, or by the inspection body sampling particular settings, whether by type or regions. There would be no routine inspection of all providers that meet the threshold for registration; nor would there be an assessment of the quality of education or judgement of the standards of teaching. This risk-based approach is targeted, proportionate and focuses on those settings where there are concerns about failure to safeguard and promote the welfare of children.

Prohibited Activities

Concerns raised about prohibited activities could be reported to the investigative body and inspection could result in action being taken.

Failings would include:

  • failing to maintain basic records and emergency contact details for the children in attendance
  • appointing unsuitable staff. (Teaching, if not supervised, falls within the definition of ‘regulated activity'*. For example, it is an offence to knowingly permit individuals who are barred from working with children to engage in regulated activity, or to work in regulated activity while barred.)
  • accommodating children in premises that are unsafe and pose a threat to their safety or welfare
  • undesirable teaching, "for example teaching which undermines or is incompatible with our values of mutual respect and tolerance, or which promotes extremist views"
  • corporal punishment

Link Reference

This article is http://edyourself.org/articles/regulationoutofschoolsettingsWales.php. The following links to other websites are contained in the article, displayed as citations to aid you in printing the document.

  1. The consultation http://gov.wales/consultations/education/out-of-school-education-settings/?status=open&lang=en
  2. here http://edyourself.org/responsewalesoutschool.docx
  3. parliamentary backlash http://edyourself.org/articles/outofschoolsettings.php
  4. here http://edyourself.org/articles/EnglandandWales.php