Schools removing teens from education to boost average grades, warns OFSTED

Children of immigrants or those with special educational needs are particularly vulnerable to this practice.

The schools inspector OFSTED has warned about the practice of ‘off-rolling’, when schools remove 15/16-year olds from their school without a formal exclusion process and without finding them alternative education.

In its annual report, OFSTED said there were around 340 schools in England which had exceptional levels of pupil movement between Year 10 and Year 11. Year 11 is the year children do GCSEs, which schools’ position in league tables is partially based.

OFSTED’s chief inspector Amanda Spielman said: “Pupils leaving a school create challenges that go wider than the school system, including for children’s services and wider education services.

“Many children fall out of sight of any authority. The luckier ones may be placed in a good PRU or into effective alternative provision. Many of these providers are doing well for their pupils. However, when faced with a lack of high-quality supply, professionals sometimes place children in unregistered or unregulated education.”

OFSTED commissioned a survey on teachers’ views on ‘off-rolling’. It found teachers thought schools lied, claiming that pupils are ‘off rolled’ for behaviour reasons while actually poor academic achievement was the main reason.

Teachers also think that vulnerable students with special educational needs are more likely to be ‘off-rolled’ and that parents are pressured to accept the practice, particuarly when English is their second language.

Teachers also think the pressure of doing well in OFSTED inspections and league tables pressures schools into ‘off-rolling’.

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