Councils 'spent thousands' on illegal Lincolnshire school

Freiston Hall school Image copyright Ofsted
Image caption The illegal Frieston Hall school charged six authorities £1,200 per week for each child to attend

An illegal school for vulnerable children was paid hundreds of thousands of pounds of taxpayers' money by local authorities, it has emerged.

An Ofsted investigation found six councils were misled into paying £1,200 a week per child to be educated at Freiston Hall, Lincolnshire.

The education watchdog found the school failed to carry out appropriate staff checks and supervise pupils properly.

Its three owners were prosecuted last week for running an illegal school.

Ofsted said children lived on site at the registered children's home while being educated at the school.

Despite a warning issued by Ofsted in 2017, the school continued to operate illegally.

Image copyright Ofsted
Image caption At a final unannounced inspection, children were found to be wandering around the premises unsupervised

Ofsted carried out two further inspections, which found the school for children with highly complex needs failed to carry out staff suitability checks, give first aid training, or supervise pupils properly.

At a final unannounced inspection, children were found wandering around unsupervised and staff were struggling to keep order, Ofsted said.

Amanda Spielman, Ofsted's chief inspector, said: "The people running Freiston Hall were receiving large amounts of public money from local authorities, who were paying for exceptionally vulnerable children to be educated in an unregistered, unsafe school.

"Schools operating beneath the radar aren't subject to regular inspection, so we cannot be assured that they are safe or providing good quality education.

"We want to send a clear message to those who continue to run unregistered schools, despite being warned not to."

She added the case "should also serve as a warning to local authorities".

Patricia Hodgkinson, Dr Albert Okoye and Clement Earle were each given a conditional discharge for 12 months and ordered to pay £1,000 costs at Lincoln Magistrates' Court last week after admitting failing to register the school.

Ofsted has not revealed which councils were involved but has been approached by the BBC for the information.

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