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Exclusive: Teachers want schools held to account for off-rolled pupils

YouGov poll finds nearly half of profession backs crackdown on schools that informally exclude pupils to improve results

off-rolling, exclusion, labour, yougov, survey, angela rayner

YouGov poll finds nearly half of profession backs crackdown on schools that informally exclude pupils to improve results

Almost half of teachers want schools to be held to account for the results of pupils they remove from their rolls in an attempt to boost their league-table positions.

The finding comes amid mounting concerns about rising levels of permanent exclusions, and the practice of "off-rolling", whereby parents are encouraged to withdraw their children from the school.

In September, Labour said that, if it came to power, it would make sure that the results of pupils who left a school’s roll would remain with it until they had a permanent place elsewhere.

In an exclusive YouGov survey of teachers, 47 per cent said they supported the proposal, compared with 34 per cent who were against and 19 per cent who did not know.

Support rose to 71 per cent among teachers in pupil referral units, where many off-rolled and excluded pupils can end up, although the sample of teachers from this sector was small.

The government had included similar proposals to Labour’s in Nicky Morgan’s 2016 white paper, Education Excellence Everywhere, but they were never acted upon.

However, education secretary Damian Hinds recently said that he has not ruled out the option, as he awaits the results of a review of exclusions being carried out by former education minister Edward Timpson.

Geoff Barton, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, told Tes that he welcomed the fact that teachers were focusing on the issue of off-rolling.

However, he said he wanted to see the detail of Labour’s proposals to ensure they were “absolutely in the interests of the young person, but also not penalising a school that suddenly finds itself being held accountable when it’s the parent’s choice that they don’t want them to be there”.

He added: “For example, there will be some young people who are quite rightly withdrawn by their parents because their parents want to withdraw them and who won’t therefore turn up at another school.

“We are talking about small numbers, but there will be some where it is legitimate, and it would then seem perverse if the school they have been withdrawn from was still held accountable for them because you want to be accountable for things you can control.”

The NAHT headteachers’ union called for more research into off-rolling.

A spokesperson said: “We need to wait until we have hard data about whether off-rolling is a genuinely widespread issue before recommending solutions.

“The decision to exclude a pupil is always a last resort, but the funding crisis has definitely made it harder for schools to provide support for some pupils.

“In a fully and fairly funded system, we would see fewer exclusions because schools would have the resources they needed to keep pupils engaged and involved in learning, no matter what challenges they faced.”

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