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  1. ITV Report

Founders of 'illegal schools' could face jail after Ofsted told to prepare cases for prosecution

The founders of illegally-operating schools, including three closed down in Birmingham last month, could face jail after education secretary Nicky Morgan ordered inspectors to draw up legal cases against them.

Independent schools offering full-time education in England must register with the Department for Education Credit: PA

Ofsted shut down three schools in Birmingham last week.

Sir Michael Wilshaw, the chief inspector of schools, disclosed the three were offering a narrow Islamic-based curriculum that included anti-Semitic, homophobic and misogynistic material.

Teaching was also taking place in conditions that represented a fire risk, he said.

Ofsted has now been told to prepare cases for prosecution against all 18 of the unregistered schools it has discovered, as well as against all future cases.

The cases will go before the education secretary, who will decide if a prosecution can be pursued.

The education secretary has told Ofsted to prepare cases for prosecution against 18 unregistered schools Credit: PA

The move follows a letter from Sir Michael to Ms Morgan calling for an "urgent" review that would ensure illegal schools are disrupted, and is part of a wider drive to stop children being exposed to extremist ideologies.

The education secretary said:

Tackling extremism in all its forms is a key priority of this government and since 2010 I have taken robust steps to tackle unregistered schools and improve safeguarding.

However, we know there is more to do, and as the prime minister has already announced, we will introduce further powers to regulate settings which teach children intensively and to intervene and impose sanctions where there are safety, welfare or extremism concerns.

We are currently consulting on these new powers, and I have personally received strong support from community leaders for them.

– Nicky Morgan, secretary of state for education

Independent schools offering full-time education in England must register with the Department for Education and accept inspection by Ofsted.

Failure to comply can lead to a jail term of up to 51 weeks and a fine.

A team of six new inspectors will be involved in identifying, investigating and supporting the prosecution of those operating unregistered schools.