Ofsted have downgraded some Accelerated Christian Education (ACE) schools, following reports from former pupils to the media, The Independent reports.

An investigation by the newspaper reveals that children at some schools which use the ACE ( Accelerated Christian Education )  curriculum are ‘at risk’, after it was found some of the schools’ safeguarding plans to be flawed or non-existent and that staff who come into contact with children sometimes have not undergone background checks to see if they are safe to work with children.

The investigation uncovered historic allegations of corporal punishment, exorcisms being performed on children and schoolgirls being “groomed” for marriage to much older men. The curriculum also teaches pupils that LGBT people are inferior and girls must submit to men.

The Independent previously reported allegations by former pupils that children were subject to serious mistreatment at some of the schools, which are run by fundamentalist Christian communities and teach more than a thousand pupils at 26 different ACE ( Accelerated Christian Education ) schools in the UK.

Former pupils of some schools said the insular nature of the communities and pressure to not speak out meant the abuse had been hidden for decades. One warned:

“No one outside the schools knows about what happens inside them, that’s why they’ve been able to go on like this for so long.”

Following The Independent’s revelations, Ofsted has downgraded 9 ACE ( Accelerated Christian Education )  schools from “good” or “outstanding” to “inadequate” or “requires improvement”, following inspections of 10 institutions in October.

In inspection reports seen by The Independent, the watchdog raises serious concerns about child protection failures, warning they are failing to meet official safeguarding regulations to protect children. A damning report of one of the schools concludes that “children are at risk”.

However, former pupils have told The Independent that the reports do not go far enough and say the Government must be held to account for allowing the schools to operate for so long. They have called for a government inquiry into how “generations of children were failed”.