Ofsted will name and shame schools excluding difficult pupils

Ofsted will name and shame schools excluding difficult pupils

September 11, 2021

Ofsted will name and shame schools excluding difficult or low-achieving pupils to maintain league table standing

  • Schools have been ‘off-rolling’ problem pupils to keep up their league standing
  • Ofsted said it will ‘name and shame’ schools pressurising pupils to leave 
  • Inspectors will highlight evidence of off-rolling if they find it during school visits 

Schools that exclude difficult or low-achieving pupils to maintain their standing in league tables are to be named and shamed by Ofsted.

The watchdog is cracking down on ‘off-rolling’, in which headteachers game the system to ditch youngsters informally. 

Parents are pressured to withdraw their children to prevent GCSE results and attendance figures being hit. 

Ofsted has warned schools that they will be named and shamed if they ‘off-roll’ troublesome or underachieving pupils in an effort to artificially inflate their exam grades by pressurising poor performers into dropping out

Unlike formal exclusions, it is not necessary to record why these pupils are removed.

Chris Russell, Ofsted’s new national education director, said inspectors must explicitly describe the practice, adding: ‘Some schools issued press releases stating off-rolling was not found because Ofsted did not use those words.

‘We do not want to leave any ambiguity, because we act in the interests of pupils and parents. Therefore, we are introducing standard wording for any inspection that finds off-rolling.’

Ofsted defines ‘off-rolling’ as: ‘The practice of removing a pupil from the school roll without a formal, permanent exclusion or by encouraging a parent to remove their child from the school roll, when the removal is primarily in the interests of the school rather than in the best interests of the pupil. Off-rolling in these circumstances is a form of ‘gaming’.’

Ofsted have said the practice of off-rolling is unacceptable and a form of ‘gaming’ 

Mr Russell stressed that off-rolling is unacceptable.

‘When inspectors find evidence of off-rolling, they will address this in the report and may take it into consideration when reaching key judgements,’ he added.

Professor Alan Smithers, director of the Centre for Education and Employment Research at Buckingham University, said it was a ‘pernicious practice’, adding: ‘It’s good that Ofsted is going to name and shame. 

‘Schools attempting to game the system should be called out.’ 

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