More than a fifth of teachers and school leaders believe they are allowed to encourage to parents to withdraw their child from school, as an alternative to permanent exclusion, according to government commissioned research published today.
The practice is not legally permitted by the Department for Education. The fact that so many teachers incorrectly believe it is permissible will only heighten concerns about the growing number of back-door exclusions or “off-rolling”.
The tactics are typically used by schools who are concerned about the impact particular pupils might have on league table positions but also want to avoid high numbers of official exclusions.
Researchers from the National Foundation for Educational Research asked a representative sample of teachers and school leaders a series of questions about which actions they thought schools were able to take under the existing rules on exclusions and pupil registration.
Six of the actions were not permitted, a fact that the vast majority of respondents recognised -in five of the six cases.
However 22 per cent incorrectly believed schools were permitted to “encourage parents to withdraw their child and apply to another school, as an alternative to a permanent exclusion”.
DfE rules on exclusions do permit “managed moves” between schools “where this occurs with the consent of the parties involved, including the parents and the admission authority of the school”.
“However,” the rules stress, “the threat of exclusion must never be used to influence parents to remove their child from the school”.
The ignorance of this rule among so many teachers may explain some of the practices now being used by schools to get rid of pupils without officially excluding them.