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Thousands of hard-to-teach pupils removed from schools – Ofsted

Thousands of hard-to-teach pupils removed from schools – Ofsted

Thousands of difficult-to-teach pupils are being removed from school rolls in an illegal attempt to boost exam performance, Ofsted has said. Schools can’t be substitute parents, Ofsted chief warns Read more Inspectors found that 19,000 children dropped off school rolls between January 2016 and January 2017, during the time students take their GCSE exams. About…

Thousands of difficult-to-teach pupils are being removed from school rolls in an illegal attempt to boost exam performance, Ofsted has said.

Inspectors found that 19,000 children dropped off school rolls between January 2016 and January 2017, during the time students take their GCSE exams.

About half of those dropped off rolls between years 10 and 11 and were not reappearing on the roll of another state-funded school.

The chief inspector of schools, Amanda Spielman, told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme on Tuesday that schools appeared to be moving difficult-to-teach pupils off their rolls to boost performance data, a practice which is illegal.

“The most likely explanation that we can find is that schools are wanting to improve their results,” she said. “We are seeing children disappearing just before census date. We are seeing children supposedly going off to be home educated where it seems quite unlikely that parents are really fully equipped to home educate.”

In its annual report, to be published later on Tuesday, Ofsted also found that 4,050 children with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) received no support in 2017, despite being given an education, health and care (EHC) plan.

The Department for Education claimed that more recent figures show an improvement. But Spielman said this was still too high.

She told Today: “We still have a long way to go to making sure that every child who needs help is getting the right kind of support and promptly.”

She added: “The 2017 figures may well have been a spike. Some more recent data has been published by DFE that shows a very welcome reduction, but it is still well above the level [it should be]. It was under 1,000 in 2010 and it is now still over 2,000.”

Spielman said provision for SEND pupils was “still pretty disappointing”. The annual report found “worrying” gaps in provision across the country.

Spielman said: “A lot of this is about the joining up of education, health and care. It is still not happening as well as it should.”

The problem of illegal off-rolling pupils appears to be most acute in London. Ofsted identified 300 out of 2,900 schools that lost pupils between years 10 and 11 as having particularly high levels of movement.

A spokeswoman for Ofsted said the practice occurred when school leaders “lost sight of their core purpose and put the school’s interest ahead of the child’s”.

Ofsted said it would use its data to prioritise which schools to inspect, adding that its new education inspection framework for September 2019 would make it easier to reward schools for good work and shift the focus away from performance measures in isolation.

A DfE spokesman said: “This report shows that standards in our schools are rising with 86% judged to be good or outstanding compared to only 66% in 2010.”

He added: “One of the key functions of a good regulator is that it highlights areas of concern and we will work with Ofsted, schools, local authorities and others to address the issues this report picks out.”

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