Off-rolling: Should schools be held to account for ex-pupils?

Heads' union questions whether Progress 8 score should include students who are no longer on a school's roll

John Roberts

ASCL considers if Progress 8 scores should include former pupils, in order to tackle the problem of off-rolling

A headteachers' union is considering whether secondary schools should be held accountable for pupils who have left before Year 11.

The Association of School and College Leaders’ head of policy, Julie McCulloch, told Tes that the union has been debating whether to call for progress measures to be weighted to take into account pupils who have moved schools.

The idea comes amid controversy over schools off-rolling pupils in order to avoid them affecting school league table rankings.

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Ms McCulloch said: “An idea we have been discussing is whether performance measures could take pupil movement into account.

The problem of off-rolling

"So, for instance, if a pupil spent three years in one secondary school and two in another, could the schools’ Progress 8 scores be weighted to reflect this, because pupils do move schools?”

She added that this could also take away an incentive for schools to off-roll pupils.

She said that the ASCL had been discussing this but that it was not yet being put forward as a policy.

A YouGov poll last year found that 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.

This came 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.

Last year 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.

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.

Off-rolling has been a dominant issue in recent months following a series of Ofsted inspection reports that identified the practice taking place in three schools.

As Tes revealed last month, two of the schools in question, Harrop Fold – which featured in the TV series Educating Greater Manchester – and Shenley Academy, in Birmingham, were both judged to be "inadequate" and placed into special measures.

A third report, into Discovery Academy, in Stoke-on Trent, also found that the school had been off-rolling pupils, according to Ofsted’s own definition. However, it rated the school as "good" overall, with leadership and management found to "require improvement".

Ofsted has said that schools found to be off-rolling, under its new inspection framework, which will be introduced in September this year, are likely to be judged to be "inadequate".

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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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