New research for Ofsted has revealed that a quarter of teachers have seen off-rolling – when a child is removed from the school roll for the school’s benefit, rather than in the child’s best interests – happen in their schools.

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

Teachers want to see more support for parents to help them resist the practice although they also said that schools needed more help to address special educational needs and other behaviours that are linked to off-rolling.

Half of those that responded to the survey said the main reason for schools to off-roll a pupil is to manipulate league tables. Some teachers felt that it was easier to justify off-rolling when there are behavioural concerns, and that behavioural issues are “dressed up” to support the pupils’ removal.

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

The researchers surveyed more than 1000 teachers from primary and secondary schools across England and interviewed teachers and senior leaders who had direct experience of off-rolling, either through teaching pupils who have been taken off the schools’ roll, or by being involved in decisions around off-rolling.

Just a fifth of those with experience of off-rolling said that there was any follow-up to check what had happened to pupils.

Under a new inspection regime, taking effect in September, schools found to be off-rolling are likely to be rated inadequate for their leadership and management, Ms Spielman confirmed.

Details of the research carried out for Ofsted can be found here.

Last reviewed 27 May 2019