On 22 May 2023, the Welsh Government (WG) launched an open consultation requesting views on the updating and strengthening of the legislative framework governing independent schools. This follows a review of the existing framework, findings from WG’s Call for Evidence from stakeholders and the recommendations of the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA), which identified shortcomings, including gaps. The intention is to strengthen and update the legislation to improve the quality of education and the welfare, health and safety of pupils in independent schools as well as to strengthen governance arrangements.
Currently, independent schools in Wales are required to register with the Welsh Government and comply with five Regulations as well as one Order, set out below, which prescribe how they should operate:
- The Independent School Standards (Wales) Regulations 2003
- The Independent Schools (Provision of Information) (Wales) Regulations 2003
- The Independent School (Publication of Inspection Reports) (Wales) Regulations 2003
- The Independent School (Religious Character of Schools) (Designation Procedure) (Wales) Regulations 2003
- The Education (Independent Schools) (Unsuitable Persons) (Wales) Regulations 2009
- The Designation of Schools Having a Religious Character (Independent Schools) (Wales) Order 2009
WG intend to amend The Independent School Standards (Wales) Regulations 2003 and The Independent Schools (Provision of Information) (Wales) Regulations 2003, above. In addition, WG propose to make the Independent Schools (Prohibition on Participation in Management) (Wales) Regulations to prescribe the grounds on which a direction may be given prohibiting a person from taking part in the management of an independent school. These proposals will form part of a wider framework of regulation, guidance and policies which aim to work together to safeguard learners in independent schools.
The Consultation document can be found here.
For further advice, support and training on the regulation of independent schools in Wales and these proposed changes as well as education, additional needs, equality, human rights and safeguarding law, contact Eve Piffaretti, Jo Corbett-Simmons and Trish D’Souza.
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