Ofsted has identified off-rolling in two published school inspection reports, its chief inspector has revealed today.
Amanda Spielman told MPs on the education select committee that two reports in which the practice had been noted had been published, while another was in the pipeline.
The two schools in question, Shenley Academy in Birmingham and Harrop Fold in Salford, were both judged to be inadequate and were placed in special measures.
Harrop Fold – the school featured in the Educating Greater Manchester TV series – has been embroiled in controversy since last summer.
Former headteacher Drew Povey was suspended from the school in July and the school’s governors launched an investigation into his conduct.
Mr Povey resigned from his position in September. In a statement at the time, he said the school had been accused of “deliberately ‘off-rolling’ students and coding attendance incorrectly”.
Ofsted placed the school in special measures in November last year with an inspection report that rated it as inadequate in all areas.
The inspection report states: “The reasons behind, and ethics of, some historic leadership decisions are not clear. For example, inspection evidence makes it clear that, over recent years, Year 11 pupils have been deleted from the school roll shortly before the date of the Department for Education’s annual census of schools each January, only to be readmitted at a later date.
"This type of action means that the examination results of pupils taken off roll temporarily do not appear in school-performance tables.”
Mr Povey told Tes today that it was wrong to conclude that there had been a deliberate attempt to off-roll pupils to benefit the school's exam scores.
The Ofsted report on Shenley Academy, published in October last year, says: “Leaders removed eight Year 11 pupils on the same day in autumn term 2017.
“They were not able to give a valid explanation as to why this happened. This practice suggests ‘off-rolling’."
The school was rated as inadequate in all inspection areas, having previously been rated as good.
Ofsted’s annual report shows that 19,000 pupils were taken off school rolls between Years 10 and 11 last year, with about half of these not reappearing on the roll of another state-funded school.
The inspectorate has identified 300 schools as potentially being guilty of off-rolling because of the high number of pupils moving between Years 10 and 11. But it has refused to name them on the basis of this data.
The watchdog has previously said it would identify off-rolling in inspection reports.
Last year, Ofsted director of education Sean Harford told Tes that the regulator's new inspection framework would allow inspectors to better explore the issue of off-rolling.
He said: “On the data and guidance for inspectors, that is where we have been slow off the mark here, but we are now seeing – even within the current framework – that reports are coming through where it is clearly identified as one of the issues that has seen the school judged as 'inadequate'.”
Mr Povey said: "I don’t believe that it’s right to exclude children and it is plain wrong that schools are gaming the system to get the best league-table results.
“At Harrop, we practiced what we preached. We were proud to be one of the most inclusive schools in the area and we took on children that many other schools had turned away – had I been in the business of massaging results, I would have turned these students away too.
"I absolutely hold my hands up to the administrative mistakes that were made involving two children, and as the leader of that school, I take full responsibility. But to conclude that there was a deliberate plan to “off-roll” to benefit the school’s performance as a whole is completely wide of the mark."