The National Extension College (NEC) welcomes the decision by the Department for Education (DfE) to introduce an accreditation scheme for online education providers in England. With the rapid growth of online education services in recent years, it is crucial that children, parents, and local authorities can have confidence in the quality of education and safeguarding arrangements offered by these providers.

The online education accreditation scheme (OEAS), a non-statutory scheme, is designed to incentivise online education providers to meet high standards of education and safeguarding arrangements for their students. The scheme consists of two essential elements: the establishment of non-statutory standards for online education provision and inspection of providers against those standards by Ofsted, acting as the quality assurance body appointed by the department.

Ofsted will conduct up to 15 inspections per term, and the DfE reserves the right to place a hold on applications if it receives more than it can process in a term. All inspection reports will be published by Ofsted, and accredited providers will appear on the Get Information about Schools (GIAS) register of schools and colleges in England.

The scheme is open to providers that teach online only on a permanent basis, provide a full curriculum or represent a child’s main or only source of education, have at least one full-time pupil of compulsory school age on roll based in England (irrespective of the number of learners based overseas), and have a physical presence in England, registered with Companies House or the Charity Commission.

The NEC recognises the importance of quality assurance and accreditation in ensuring the provision of high-quality education to students. We believe that the OEAS will not only provide a level of reassurance to parents and local authorities but also encourage providers to strive for excellence in their provision of education services. We encourage all eligible providers to engage with the scheme on a voluntary basis and to apply for accreditation.

In conclusion, the NEC welcomes the introduction of the online education accreditation scheme by the DfE, and we look forward to seeing the benefits that this scheme will bring to the online education services sector in England.

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