Schools fear that they will be judged on the results of excluded pupils they have barely taught, after the government unveiled plans to overhaul alternative provision.
Under measures in the White Paper published by the Department for Education last week, mainstream schools will be accountable for the “educational outcomes” of pupils who are placed in alternative provision (AP) because of exclusion or for any other reason.
At present, some of these pupils are removed from a school’s roll when they are transferred to AP (centres for pupils who, because of illness, social or emotional difficulties, behavioural problems or other factors, are unable to remain at school). In these instances, the original headteacher has had no responsibility for them.
Last week, announcing the changes, education secretary Nicky Morgan said that she would not tolerate schools using AP as a “dumping ground” and “effectively [giving] up on a whole group of young people”.
But headteachers are fearful of being held to account for the results of every pupil that they send to AP.
Malcolm Trobe, interim general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, told TES: “Leaders will be concerned that the results of youngsters who are no longer at their school will count towards their school’s results.
“There’s a big difference between a youngster who has been in mainstream provision until the age of 14 or 15 before transferring to AP and a youngster who has been in AP from the age of 11 and has never really been to your school.
“If a youngster has been in your school for one term out of five years, you can ensure an AP provider is delivering high quality provision, but you’re not able to have any direct impact on the education of that pupil. I think that will be a concern to heads.”
But Mr Trobe said that the move could benefit pupils if it ensured that schools took an “active role” in making sure the quality of alternative provision was high. Some academy groups were already taking the “very positive step” of setting up their own AP, he said.
A spokesman for the DfE said it did not comment on speculation.
This is an edited version of an article in the 25 March edition of TES. Subscribers can view the full story here, or to subscribe, click here. To download the digital edition, Android users can click here and iOS users can click here. You can also download the TES Reader app for Android or iOS. Or pick up TES magazine, available at all good newsagents.