The full extent of illegal faith schools operating in England has been revealed for the first time in official figures seen by The Independent.
Ofsted inspectors have identified at least 170 suspected illegal schools, which up to 3,000 children could be attending since a special task force was set up to tackle the issue last year. It is a huge increase on previous estimates of around 100 schools.
Of the faith schools inspected by Ofsted so far, 57 per cent are run by Islamic faith groups, 31 per cent are run by Jewish faith groups and 12 per cent are run by Christian faith groups.
The suspected schools are thought to be operating throughout England, with London and the Midlands being home to the highest concentration of sites. Inspectors have probed concerns 340 children are being taught at 16 settings in London, and 386 children are feared to be attending some 27 suspected schools in the Midlands.
Ofsted’s figures show London has twice the number of illegal Orthodox Jewish faith schools in London than Islamic schools, where many only study religious texts for their entire education meaning they leave with no qualifications and in some cases unable to speak English.