British Councils Paid £700k To Unsafe Illegal School

British Councils Paid £700k To Unsafe Illegal School

By Eric King-

Six British Councils spent £7ook funding illegal schools.

Amongst them, it emerged that Hertfordshire county council spent £131,000 sending four youngsters to Freiston, between October 2017 and August 2018 but has now reviewed its process.

City of Wolverhampton Council and Rotherham Metropolitan Borough Council sent one youngster each, at a cost of £148,500 and £146,000, respectively. Patricia Hodgkinson, Albert Okoye and Clement Earle have been ordered to pay £1,000 costs for their part in running the unregistered school. They all pleaded guilty.

Last month three people were convicted of running the unregistered school at Freiston Hall in Lincolnshire, after it emerged they charged £1,200 a week to educate youngsters with complex physical and mental health needs.

Cath Murray of The Centre for Social Justice said: “No children should be placed in unregistered schools or alternative provision.” She said that every local authority “should be required to maintain a list of all providers with whom they commission places.

“If any education provider does not meet the threshold for Ofsted inspection, the local authority should perform quality assurance and safeguarding checks – involving an initial visit in person – before they place any child with the provider.”

British Councils are obligated to identify illegal schools and should liaise with the Department for Education and Ofsted to check a school is registered.

Local authorities are said to have “overarching responsibility for safeguarding and promoting the welfare of all children  regardless of the types of educational setting they attend”.

The Freiston case has raised questions about the due diligence councils carry out over such placements. The authority claimed Freiston’s leaders assured them registration was “imminent” and the council faced a “very challenging placement situation”.

A council spokesman said it was then “subsequently wrongly advised by the provider that the provision had been successful in registration and inspected”.

It has also emerged that Hertfordshire county council spent £131,000 sending four youngsters to Freiston, between October 2017 and August 2018 but has now reviewed its process.

City of Wolverhampton Council and Rotherham Metropolitan Borough Council sent one youngster each, at a cost of £148,500 and £146,000, respectively. Patricia Hodgkinson, Albert Okoye and Clement Earle have been ordered to pay £1,000 costs for their part in running the unregistered school. They all pleaded guilty.

Ofsted’s special taskforce  which costs £1 million a year  has identified hundreds of potential illegal schools, but just three have been prosecuted.

Amanda Spielman, the chief inspector, said: “This case should serve as a warning to local authorities.” She said those that ran the school received “large amounts of public money from local authorities, which were paying for exceptionally vulnerable children to be educated in an unregistered, unsafe school”.

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