A quarter of teachers have seen off-rolling in their schools, and most of these believe the practice is on the rise, new research commissioned by Ofsted has shown.
The YouGov survey also found that teachers who have experienced off-rolling, where a child is removed from the roll to benefit the school rather than the pupil, are more likely to work in academies.
Chief inspector Amanda Spielman warned that teachers were saying that some schools are “clearly pushing vulnerable pupils out through the back door”.
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The report also highlights concerns that parents with a low understanding of the education system are most at risk of being pressured into off-rolling.
It found that, of teachers who have experienced off-rolling:
- 48 per cent worked in an academy (academy staff accounted for 42 per cent of respondents to the survey)
- 61 per cent work in a secondary (secondary staff accounted for 43 per cent of respondents to the survey)
- 29 per cent work in a large school (staff from a large school accounted for 17 per cent of respondents to the survey)
- 5 per cent work in a school rated "inadequate" (staff from an "inadequate" school accounted for 3 per cent of respondents to the survey)
Of those who have experienced off-rolling, 64 per cent thought it happens a lot or a fair amount in schools in their local authority area, and 66 per cent think it happens more than it did five years ago.
More than half (51 per cent) of all those surveyed said the main reason for off-rolling was securing a high league table position
One senior leader at a secondary academy described off rolling as “commonplace” at their previous school, while an assistant head at a primary academy said: “I think it's more common than people think it is... it's gone up dramatically in the last 10 years...”
Ms Spielman described the findings as “troubling”, and added: “While not every school is off-rolling, teachers tell us that some are clearly pushing vulnerable pupils out through the back door with little thought to their next steps and best interests.
“Ofsted takes a dim view of off-rolling. When inspectors uncover evidence of this happening we make it clear in our inspection reports.
"And under our new inspection regime, taking effect in September, schools found to be off-rolling are likely to be rated inadequate for their leadership and management.”
The findings come in the week that the Timpson Review of school exclusions called on the government “to do more to understand the scale of [off-rolling] and the impact it is having on those involved”.
The Department for Education has been contacted for comment.