A RECENT report published by the education regulatory body, Ofsted, has identified that suspected illegal schools are becoming a nationwide problem.

Detailed figures released on Friday revealed that since January 2016, Ofsted has investigated 521 schools and inspected 259 across England.

Out of the 521 under investigation, 61 were in the North West, with 34 of those having had inspections.

Following that, a total of seven North West schools were issued with warnings.

Ofsted estimates that as many as 6,000 children are being educated in the unregistered settings it has inspected to date.

The report states that these children are potentially at risk because there is no formal external oversight of safeguarding, health and safety or the quality of education provided.

An unregistered school is defined as a setting that is operating as an independent school, without registration. It is a criminal offence to operate an unregistered independent school in England.

In total, 71 settings across England have been issued with a warning notice by inspectors and data shows that 15 of those settings have since closed, while 39 have changed the way they operate in order to comply with the law, and 9 have registered as independent schools.