Birmingham & Black Country

Birmingham City Council 'negligent over illegal school'

Sir Michael Wilshaw Image copyright PA
Image caption Sir Michael Wilshaw said Birmingham City Council had been told by Ofsted it had concerns about Bordesley independent school

The head of Ofsted Sir Michael Wilshaw has accused Birmingham City Council of being negligent over a school "operating illegally".

The watchdog said "squalid conditions" were found at the unregistered Bordesley independent school, for children from the Muslim community, which has now closed.

Sir Michael said the council should have taken action against the school.

The council admitted it now needed to be "sharper".

Updates on this story and more from Birmingham.

Ofsted said it had found evidence of 15 unregistered schools, but arrangements for closing down such institutions were inadequate.

In a letter to Education Secretary Nicky Morgan, Sir Michael said inspectors had been delayed from entering the Birmingham school, but once inside had found "squalid conditions" including no running water in the toilet areas.

There was also "clear evidence of segregation, with separate classrooms for boys and girls" and "no evidence of appropriate vetting checks being carried out on staff". Ofsted said evidence suggested all children at the school in Bordesley were from the Muslim community.

Sir Michael told the BBC that following the so-called Trojan Horse scandal, Birmingham should be "more concerned than most local authorities".

'There are now serious concerns'

Asked if the authority had been negligent, Sir Michael said: "Yes absolutely so. They knew this place was operating and operating illegally and they should have gone in there, got the evidence and mounted a case [to the Department for Education]."

Council head of children's services Peter Hay said local authorities did not have a statutory role to regulate or oversee independent schools and any actions with them were "on an entirely voluntary basis".

But he added: "I do get Sir Michael's point, that in relation to Birmingham there are now serious concerns."

He said the council needed to have a "sharper" response in the future.

The Education Secretary, Nicky Morgan said: "We understand Bordesley has now closed and are keeping in close contact with Birmingham local authority as they work to urgently ensure the children involved are safe and are receiving suitable education."

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