Sophia High School

Blog-cover-Safeguarding

Safeguarding and the growing concern of the unregulated tutoring and online school industry

As reported recently in the ITV and BBC news, there is a growing concern in the education industry about how unregulated tutoring/teaching is in the United Kingdom, both with tutoring agencies and online schools: “Concern over lack of regulation for private tutors” – ITV

In recent weeks, with the rise of private tuition accelerating during a third lockdown and school closure in the U.K., this hugely important issue regarding a lack of regulation in the sector has been raised again: https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-9173983/Private-tutors-charged-sex-offences-continuing-work-bail.html

Anybody can claim to be a tutor/teacher, without any checks at all. Clients need to do their research and use only reputable online schools or reputable tutoring agencies; they also need to make sure these online schools and tutoring agencies have clear policies and procedures around safer recruitment. Clients need to know that these online schools and tutoring agencies have undertaken professional background checks before they open their doors to tutors/teachers; shockingly statistics show that the majority of clients fail to do so.

This can no longer be allowed to continue. Sophia supports The Tutors’ Association in lobbying the government to making sure all self-employed tutors in this country have a police check (known as a DBS) before they can offer private lessons to children in the UK. It is also something that children’s charity the NSPCC has been campaigning for, as they call for a tightening of the law to ensure every individual giving private tuition undergoes a check, saying the same rules should apply for self-employed tutors as for classroom teachers.

Sophia also believes that all online schools (which are increasing in number around the country) also need some sort of regulations. This is why Sophia is fully behind the Government Online Accreditation Scheme. The development of this scheme is a defining moment for online education provision in England. It marks the first time that the sector will have the opportunity to receive accreditation from the Department of Education, and provide assurance to parents, pupils and local authorities about the minimum standards offered through online education services. Unfortunately, this scheme does not cover tutoring agencies. It is also not a legal requirement that online schools have to opt in for this scheme; which is disappointing! It is also unclear when this scheme will take place. The Government’s consultation response to the online accreditation scheme was published in June 2020; not surprising, that has taken rather a back seat, due to the wide-reaching effects that the Covid 19 pandemic is having on this country. Let us hope that when things get back to normal, they will push forward and ratify the Government Online Accreditation Scheme.

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