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We campaign to protect the rights of all children to a proper education, and have played a critical role in exposing the scandal of unregistered faith schools.

What’s the problem?

Countless children have 'vanished' from the education system across England. Research by the BBC found that more than 30,000 children went missing from English and Welsh schools for "substantial" periods during the 2014-15 academic year. 985 children went missing for part of the 2014-15 school year in Bradford alone.

Many of these children have been enrolled in unregistered and illegal faith 'schools' which operate without inspection or sanction.

In some parts of the country, local authorities believe there to be more illegal, unregistered faith schools than registered ones. This is an endemic problem, yet there have been troubling signs of reluctance from local authorities to investigate and identify these schools.

These schools can deprive children of a broad and balanced education, promote extremism, regressive and discriminatory social attitudes and they do so without scrutiny.

It is vital that local authorities take the necessary action to identify illegal schools and register or close them. We also call for tighter inspection of home schooling, to ensure children's right to an education is protected.

What are we doing?

For many years we have been lobbying education ministers and the Office for Standards in Education (Ofsted) to tackle the growing problem of unregistered (and therefore illegal) faith schools. Years of campaigning on this issue does appear to have been successful in changing attitudes. We have received assurances from the Department for Education that where such 'schools' are identified, the Government will take action, and take a "tougher approach to prosecuting them". In 2016 Ofsted established a taskforce of inspectors to seek out unregistered schools that are operating outside the law.

Despite these assurances, we remain highly concerned that too many children are still being left to languish in illegal 'schools' where their fundamental right to education is being ignored. In a submission to the United Nations' periodic review of the UK's record on human rights we urged the UN to recommend that the UK develops a robust strategy for addressing this issue which includes the closing down of illegal schools.

What you can do:

Report a concern

You can report an illegal school to your local education authority. They have a duty to identify children not receiving an education. Oftsed have a taskforce to investigate unregistered schools and coordinate with the CPS if necessary.

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