Off-rolling is illegal – time to take strong steps to stop it
Rise in number of disappearing KS4 pupils
Off-rolling, whereby secondary schools exclude pupils likely to lower an overall pass rate, is illegal. Schools can only exclude pupils for disciplinary reasons.
But there’s been a rise in the number of key stage 4 pupils disappearing from school rolls before GCSEs, Schools Week reports.
19,000 pupils didn’t progress from year 10 to year 11 in the same state school in 2016/17, Jason Bradbury, Ofsted’s chief statistician. found. Many would have moved to another state -funded school but ‘around half’ didn’t appear on the state school census.
Some of the lost pupils could have moved to independent schools, Bradbury said. Others could be home-schooled. But some may have ‘ended up in an unregistered school or dropped out of education entirely’.
London particularly affected
‘A higher proportion of schools in London are seeing movement of pupils compared to other areas of the country,’ Bradbury wrote. And a Schools Week investigation dated March 2017 using figures from Education Datalab revealed as many as 10% of pupils disappeared in year 11 in some London secondaries.
Academies more likely to lose pupils: LA schools more likely to accept them
‘Academies, particularly those in some multi-academy trusts, appear to be losing proportionately more pupils than local authority schools. Conversely, local authority schools seem to be taking on proportionately more pupils,’ Bradbury said.
Off-rolling could get worse, says Ofsted chief
Chief HMI Amanda Spielman told Radio 5 yesterday that off-rolling ‘could get worse’. Ofsted was investigating this ‘worrying’ question to decide ‘what, if anything’ Ofsted could do.
DfE policies contribute to off-rolling, said cross-party MPs
‘Off-rolling is in part driven by school policies created by the Department for Education’, MPs on the Education Select Committee said in July. ‘The Department cannot wash its hands of the issue, just as schools cannot wash their hands of their pupils.’
Progress 8 incentivises exclusion
The Education Select Committee concluded that Progress 8 incentivised exclusion. It deterred schools from retaining pupils ‘classed as difficult or challenging’.
The excessive emphasis on results has negative effects including gaming and deterring pupils likely to depress a school’s overall score. The 2018 Ofsted report into teachers’ attitudes found four in ten secondary teachers felt their school valued league table position more than education quality.
Off-rolling is illegal, says DfE
In response to the Education Select Committee’s report, School’s minister Nick Gibb said off-rolling was ‘unlawful’. But he then handed the responsibility for tackling it to Ofsted.
Schools which off-roll should face consequences
Schools won’t be deterred from off-rolling by sending a warning letter. If allegations of off-rolling are proven, schools should face appropriate consequences. These could include removing heads, governing bodies or trustees and possibly barring them from being involved in education.
Far better to scrap stringent accountability measures
If accountability measures contribute to an atmosphere which encourages bad practices, then it’s time to look at these measures. It’s counterproductive to measure education quality by high-stakes results.