Out of Schools Setting (Sunday Schools) Consultation

The Government is not proposing to regulate institutions teaching children for a short period every week, such as Sunday schools or the Scouts. The proposal will also not apply to one-off residential activities, such as a week-long summer camp. The Government is looking specifically at places where children receive intensive education out of schools, where children could be spending more than six to eight hours a week.

The proposals are all about making sure that where there are concerns raised by parents and others about issues of extremism, child cruelty or inappropriate teaching in unregulated settings, government can take action to protect children and empower parents. As the Prime Minister made clear in his Party Conference speech last year, such concerns have been raised, including around extremism in some Madrassas.

I want children to be in a safe environment and somewhere which does not teach children hateful and extremist views that undermine British Values. As you may know, the Government is seeking views on changes that will mean that if an institution is teaching children intensively, then it will be made to register so it can be inspected.

The Government is working closely with the Church of England and other faith communities to ensure that the system is targeted, proportionate and focuses on those settings which are failing to safeguard and promote the welfare of children. Those discussions have been productive, and Ministers have made clear the focus is on establishments that are preaching hatred or putting children at risk.

If they have not responded to the Consultation: The Department for Education wanted to increase its understanding of out of school education settings and the impact the proposed system may have. I know that a high number of people responded to the consultation, and I will await the Government's response before commenting further.

Unfortunately I was not able to attend the Westminster Hall debate but I know that a number of Members attended and the Minister was also present. You can read the debate here:  http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201516/cmhansrd/cm160120/halltext/160120h0001.htm#160120h0001.htm_spnew0.