Help parents resist ‘off-rolling’, say teachers

10 May 19

Teachers want to see more support for parents to help them resist “off-rolling”, according to Ofsted research.

The watchdog’s report finds that a quarter of teachers have witnessed the practice in their schools, whereby a child is removed for the school’s benefit rather than in their best interests.

The study based on survey responses from more than 1,000 teachers, Exploring the issue of off-rolling, indicates that two-thirds of these teachers believe the practice is on the rise.

“These are troubling findings,” said Amanda Spielman, Ofsted’s Chief Inspector.

“While not every school is off-rolling, teachers tell us that some are clearly pushing vulnerable pupils out through the back door with little thought to their next steps and best interests.”

Off-rolling is the practice of removing a pupil from a school roll without a formal, permanent exclusion or encouraging a parent to remove their child when this is primarily in the interests of the school.

Ofsted paints a worrying picture of the extent of the practice in England’s schools with teachers believing that academic achievement is central to schools’ decision-making and the main reason to off-roll a pupil is to manipulate league tables.

The report indicates that teachers believe parents with less understanding of the education system and their rights are most likely to be pressured into taking their child out of school.

Some spoke of “fear-mongering”, with school management giving parents a “worst case scenario” for their child’s future if they remained at the school.

The vast majority of those questioned opposed off-rolling, and teachers said they want to see better support for parents so that they understand their rights and options.

The YouGov survey for Ofsted also found that teachers agree that off-rolling usually happens before GCSEs – either during years 10 to 11 before results are collected, or in year 9 before exam teaching begins.

Vulnerable students with special educational needs or other needs are more likely to be affected, and some teachers felt that it was easier to justify off-rolling when there are behavioural concerns that can be “dressed up” to support a pupil’s removal.

Spielman added: “Ofsted takes a dim view of off-rolling. When inspectors uncover evidence of this happening we make it clear in our inspection reports.

“And under our new inspection regime, taking effect in September, schools found to be off-rolling are likely to be rated inadequate for their leadership and management.”

This week, the Department of Education announced an overhaul of schools’ exclusion policies.

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