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IICSA Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse

Child protection in religious organisations and settings Investigation Report


F.1: Overview

1. Many religious organisations and settings provide services to children through ‘supplementary schooling’ or ‘out-of-school provision’. The Department for Education (in a call for evidence about such settings between November 2015 and January 2016) defined an out-of-school setting as:

“Any institution providing tuition, training, instruction or activities to children in England, without their parents’ or carers’ supervision, that is not a school, college, 16–19 academy, or provider caring for children under 8 years old, which is registered with Ofsted or a childcare agency”.[1]

2. There are potentially 250,000 children in England and Wales receiving education in supplementary schools with a faith focus or that are organised by a religious organisation.[2]

3. Ofsted identified that there were a significant number of religious organisations and settings operating a comprehensive programme of after-school or weekend tuition. Many of these supplementary schools serve one ethnic community.[3]

4. The Royal Society of Arts’ Action and Research Centre undertook research that found that 60 percent of supplementary schools served a single ethnic community. Religious education was provided by just under half of supplementary schools. Of those, Islam accounted for 52 percent of religious supplementary schools, Christianity for 25 percent and Hinduism for 18 percent. Children typically attended for two to five years.[4]

5. The Children’s Commissioner for England, Ms Anne Longfield, visited some yeshivas and madrasahs with Ofsted in 2017 and 2018. The resulting report in 2019, Skipping School: Invisible Children,[5] expressed concern about the absence of oversight or standards in respect of child protection in these settings by statutory authorities. In Ms Longfield’s view, this resulted in children being more vulnerable to abuse.[6]

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