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Online Schools Quality Assurance - Prior Information Notice
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A feasibility study has taken place to look at the possibility of a voluntary accreditation and registration scheme for online schools. There is a growing market of online schools in England, who offer a full curriculum, and/or represent a child's main or only source of formal education.
The sector is developing rapidly and now encompasses a wide range of providers. The number of children educated by online providers is relatively small as a proportion of the school system as a whole, but the sector is expanding and forms a major part of non-standard education provision.
As a result of the consultation in to online schools the DfE intend to launch a voluntary registration scheme for online schools providers. Online schools providers will have to meet certain standards, similar to those for independent schools in England, in order to be accredited by the DfE. The DfE are seeking to appoint a Quality Assurance Body that will carry out inspections against the non-statutory online school standards (OSS), and report to the department on their findings. We anticipate that online schools will be re-inspected within a four year period to allow their accreditation to continue.
The competitive process to appoint a Quality Assurance Body will result in a concession contract being awarded, for a proposed period of at least two years, with the successful provider carrying out the QA inspections for DfE during this period.
The value of the contract will become clear during the procurement process. It is proposed that there will be no payment by the DfE for this work; the funding for the successful bidder will derive from the fee structure agreed to be charged to online schools and the number of schools joining the scheme.