Choosing a registered school

Academies, free schools, foundation schools, maintained schools, and independent schools, are all available in Brent. The choice can be confusing for parents who want to be sure they choose the right sort of school for their child.

One important message that Brent Council would like to communicate to parents when choosing any kind of school is to make sure it is registered with the Department for Education (DfE). All schools in England and Wales including independent schools offering full time education should be registered with the DFE.

Why is it important to send your child to a DfE registered school?

You’ll be sure that the school meets certain standards in the quality of education, the health and welfare of pupils and the suitability of the staff. You’ll know that the premises and accommodation provided are safe and secure. You’ll be satisfied that your child is taught alongside children of their own age and that they have qualified staff and that class sizes are regulated.

Please satisfy yourself that the premises are suitable and safe for your child and you may want to ask if staff have had a Disclosure and Barring check from the Disclosure and Barring Service and whether there is a child protection policy.

It has come to the attention of the Education Welfare Service that there are independent schools in Brent that are not registered with the DfE. Anyone who conducts an independent school which is not a registered school is breaking the law and may be liable to prosecution.

The DfE consider an establishment to be providing full-time education if it is providing education which is intended to provide all, or substantially all, of a child’s education. It is unlikely that a school operating for fewer than 18 hours per week will be able to meet the standards and register as an independent school. Those schools offering teaching of around 20 hours per week or more will be providing full-time education and may therefore need to register.

If an establishment falls outside the definition of an independent school given above, for example because it provides full-time instruction for 4 or fewer pupils of compulsory school age (none of whom have a statement of special needs, or an EHC Plan*, or are looked after by a local authority) or part-time instruction to any number of pupils of compulsory school age during school hours, you should get in touch with the local authority for your area.

The local authority will need to satisfy itself that the children of compulsory school age who are attending your establishment are receiving suitable education otherwise than at a school. This means that the children are receiving an efficient full-time education suitable to their age, ability and aptitude and to any special educational needs that they may have.

What can you do if you’re not sure if your child’s school needs to register or if it is registered with the DfE?

You can talk to the headteacher or proprietor of the school or contact Brent’s Education Welfare Service.

*This is an education, health and care plan, within the meaning of section 37(2) of the Children and Families Act 2014.