9 ways to re-engage off-rolled students

Students who dropped out of school can be difficult to motivate. Here are some approaches that can work

Kate Parker

Off-rolling: Students who have been taken out of mainstream education can struggle to adjust to life in further education colleges, warns the Association of Colleges

The rise in exclusions and off-rolling of pupils in secondary education has been well-documented over the past few years, with many reports – including The Timpson Review of School Exclusion and the education committee’s report, Forgotten Children – looking into the issue.

But what happens when those students return to post-16 education?

A new report, published by the Association of Colleges (AoC) at the start of Colleges Week, highlights the lack of suitable post-16 provision for learners who attended (alternative provision) AP in key stage 4.


Background:  The future of exclusions: Timpson Review at a glance

News:  Exclusive: MAT accused of acting on 'off-rolling' plan

Opinion:  'The state of unregulated alternative provision is shameful'


It calls for students who attend AP pre-16 to be supported in the transition back into mainstream education, and for these transitions to be funded appropriately. 

The report asks four general further education colleges – Bridgwater and Taunton College, Leeds City College, Walsall College and Waltham Forest College – to describe what they thought high-quality provision would be for those students.

9 ways to support disengaged students

  • A systematic approach to data-sharing at transition that provides the college with the information it needs to place students on the right course, shape their programme and put the right support in place from day one. 
  • Bespoke programmes, including a variety of enrichment activities, which help students develop their personal, social and employability skills, widen their horizons, raise their aspirations and allow them to progress successfully to a mainstream programme suited to their interests and abilities.
  • Small group sizes and one-to-one coaching and mentoring relationships. 
  • Trained, specialist, multi-disciplinary staff with access to high-quality welfare services reflecting the need to nurture staff as well as students.
  • Fit-for-purpose facilities with space for one-to-ones, cooling down areas and small group working.
  • The option for a fully-funded third year for students without an EHC Plan who have needed time to adjust to college and after two years are continuing to make good progress.
  • Post-college employment services for which the students would be eligible that can provide advice, guidance and, where necessary, job coaching to help the students into employment.
  • Better metrics for measuring the success of targeted provision for these students, including a focus on distance travelled.
  • One or more individualised learner record  (ILR) categories to help track the progress of these students and compare achievements and impact with other student groups, courses or providers.

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Kate Parker

Kate Parker is a FE reporter.

Find me on Twitter @KateeParker

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