Exclusive: Ofsted rates 'off-rolling' school as 'good'

Inspectorate finds school removed pupils for its own interests in Year 11 but still gives it a positive overall grade

John Roberts

Ofsted has rated a school as good despite it off-rolling pupils

Ofsted has rated a secondary school as being "good", despite finding that its leaders have off-rolled pupils in Year 11.

Inspectors found that Discovery Academy in Stoke-on-Trent transferred pupils from the school’s roll in Year 11 when this was not in these young people's interests.

The report said that this practice – which meets Ofsted’s definition of off-rolling – had stopped during the inspection but that the school had planned to off-roll more pupils this year.

Ofsted has vowed to crackdown on off-rolling and has said that the practice will be a focus of its new inspection framework, which comes into effect later this year.

It has been reported that schools found to be off-rolling could get "inadequate" judgements under the new inspection regime.

And one of Ofsted’s most senior officials has suggested that evidence of off-rolling could contribute to a school being failed. 

However, the inspectorate has given Discovery Academy an overall judgement of "good" – despite identifying off-rolling as taking place there.

The leadership and management of the school is said to require improvement.

The Ofsted inspection report says 10 pupils in Year 11, who were on the school’s roll but attending good-quality alternative provision, were transferred to the alternative provider’s roll in January 2018.

It adds: “This means that these pupils are not represented in any published information about Discovery Academy, for example data about pupils’ progress or their destinations after leaving school.

"Consequently, published information about Discovery Academy for 2018 does not take account of all the pupils who were on roll for all or most of Years 10 and 11.”

'No convincing reason' for off-rolling

The report says that the off-rolling was done with “procedures agreed with local schools and the local authority (LA), and therefore with the full knowledge of these partners”.

However, it adds: “Leaders and LA officers could not provide inspectors with any convincing reason for this practice.

"Inspectors concluded that it provided no benefit for the pupils and was carried out in the best interests of the school rather than the pupils. This constitutes ‘off-rolling’ according to Ofsted’s definition.

“Leaders had planned to off-roll a smaller number of pupils in January 2019, but, because the school ceased this practice during the inspection, no pupils left the roll at this time.”

However, the inspection report praises other aspects of the school, rating its teaching, learning and assessment, outcomes for pupils and the personal development, behaviour and welfare as being "good". And Ofsted has judged the school to be "good" overall.

Last month, Ofsted’s chief inspector Amanda Spielman told MPs at a select committee hearing that off-rolling had been identified in three inspection reports.

Tes revealed that two of these were Harrop Fold, the school featured in the Educating Greater Manchester TV series, and Shenley Academy in Birmingham.

In both cases, the schools were rated as "inadequate" and placed in special measures.  Shenley Academy has also been warned by the Department for Education that it could have its funding terminated.

In December, Sean Harford, Ofsted’s national director of education, suggested that off-rolling had been a factor in schools being rated "inadequate".

“On the data and guidance for inspectors that is where we have been slow off the mark here but we are now seeing even within the current framework reports are coming through now where it is clearly identified, as one of the issues which has seen the school be judged as 'inadequate',” he said then.  

Ofsted has identified 300 schools with high pupil movement that could indicate off-rolling.

It has declined to name these schools but has said that schools found to be off-rolling would be named in inspection reports.

Register to continue reading for free

It only takes a moment and you'll get access to more news, plus courses, jobs and teaching resources tailored to you

John Roberts

John Roberts

John Roberts is North of England reporter for Tes

Find me on Twitter @JohnGRoberts

Latest stories