Academy failed by Ofsted for off-rolling pupils

Cornwall school with high expectations removed some pupils from its roll against parents' wishes, inspectors find

John Roberts

Falmouth School has been criticised by Osted for off-rolling pupils against parents' wishes

An academy has been criticised by Ofsted for off-rolling some pupils against the wishes of family and the advice of a local authority.

Falmouth School, in Cornwall, has been judged to be "inadequate" after becoming the fifth school identified by inspectors as carrying out off-rolling.

The report says: “Leaders have not always acted in pupils’ best interests when taking them off the school roll. 

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“Such removal is ‘off-rolling’, according to Ofsted’s definition. 

“In some cases, the removal from the roll was against the wishes of the family, the advice of the local authority and the professional judgement of other agencies.”

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The report says that Falmouth School has a vision of high expectations and aspirations for pupils, but it says that many pupils do not receive the support they need to satisfy these.

It adds: “Leaders are unclear as to the reasons why a higher proportion of pupils leave the school other than at the end of Year 11. 

“Many parents take the decision to educate their children at home. 

"In some cases, pupils experience poor attendance or behaviour issues prior to parents’ decisions to home-educate. 

“Leaders say that they do not endorse this course of action but have not explored this trend sufficiently so that they can mitigate it. There is no plan in place to understand and improve this pattern.” 

The school’s leadership and management is rated as "inadequate" but the teaching and learning and outcomes for pupils are both rated as "good".

The report says that the quality of teaching, learning and assessment leads to "good" academic outcomes.

It also praises leaders for using effective strategies to improve attendance and to reduce the proportion of pupils who miss school regularly.

Falmouth School’s, interim chair of governors Sue Godzicz, said: “We accept that lessons have to be learnt and that work needs to be done.

“Nevertheless, we are pleased that inspectors did recognise the excellent teaching at the school, which resulted in every group, including disadvantaged children, performing well above the national average and Falmouth School being the highest performing school in the local authority on the government’s attainment measure."

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".

It has vowed to crack down on off-rolling through its new inspection framework being introduced in September.

It has now identified five schools as off-rolling under its current inspection regime.

Two of these schools, Harrop Fold, from TV’s Educating Greater Manchester series, and Shenley Academy, in Birmingham, were placed in special measures.

Discovery Academy, in Stoke-on-Trent, was rated as "good" despite Ofsted’s verdict that the school had off-rolled pupils.

Last month The Sutton Academy in St Helens, Merseyside, was found to have off-rolled pupils in an inspection report that rates the school as "requires improvement".

The report says: “For the past three years, leaders have removed a significant number of pupils from the school’s roll during Year 11. This was not in pupils’ best interests. This constitutes off-rolling by Ofsted’s definition.”

It adds: “In January 2019, leaders removed 12 pupils from the school’s roll. These pupils had been attending alternative provision. They were transferred to the alternative provider’s roll. This means that these pupils will not be represented in any published information about The Sutton Academy, such as information about pupils’ progress and destinations.

"The decision to remove pupils from the school’s roll was taken in the best interests of the school, rather than the pupils."

Ofsted has identified 300 schools with high pupil movement where off-rolling could be taking place. 

However, it has refused to name the schools in the data, or to say how many of them have been inspected to date because of those concerns.

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John Roberts

John Roberts

John Roberts is North of England reporter for Tes

Find me on Twitter @JohnGRoberts

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