Big success: Government to legislate this year to shut down illegal schools

11 February, 2019

The education inspectorate Ofsted will be given stronger legal powers to crack down on the operation of illegal schools, after the Government announced its intention to pass new legislation this year on unregistered schools as part of its new Integrated Communities Strategy Action Plan.

Humanists UK, which has led the national campaign for action on unregistered religious schools, has welcomed the move after repeatedly calling for more powers for Ofsted so that it can better protect children at risk.

In the Action Plan published today, the Government said it intends to legislate to strengthen Ofsted’s powers and amend the requirement about which independent educational institutions need to register with the Secretary of State.

In December Ofsted’s annual report again found that children were at risk in illegal schools. At the time, Humanists UK said it was ‘truly alarming’ that Ofsted had uncovered areas where children were at risk and ‘yet they are effectively unable to shut down these institutions.’

Humanists UK has extensively campaigned against a significant number of unregistered, illegal schools which have operating through England, many of which are religious. Such settings serve a variety of different religious communities, including Muslim, Jewish, and Christian communities – all of which in some respect tend to be fundamentalist, extreme, or isolationist in their outlook.

Humanists UK Education Campaigns Manager Dr Ruth Wareham said ‘New legislation is urgently needed to remove the loopholes in the law that have allowed illegal schools to continue operating for so long. The fact that the Government is now proposing to legislate is therefore a huge step forward.

‘These plans suggest Ofsted will be given the powers they have asked for, such as seizing evidence, which should make it easier to build a prosecution and close illegal schools. We need to wait until full details are published to see if this is the case but this is a very promising development.’


For more information, contact Humanists UK press manager Casey-Ann Seaniger at or phone 020 7324 3078.

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At Humanists UK, we advance free thinking and promote humanism to create a tolerant society where rational thinking and kindness prevail. Our work brings non-religious people together to develop their own views, helping people be happier and more fulfilled in the one life we have. Through our ceremonies, education services, and community and campaigning work, we strive to create a fair and equal society for all.