Top DfE adviser welcomes Ofsted off-rolling crackdown

DfE official admits he had not heard of the term 'off-rolling' two years ago but backs Ofsted's focus on the problem

A Department for Education adviser has welcomed Ofsted's focus on off-rolling.

The Department for Education's adviser for special educational needs and disability (SEND) has welcomed Ofsted’s crackdown on off-rolling.

André Imich told a conference today that he had not heard of the term “off-rolling” two years ago but said he was pleased that it was now being dealt with.

He also said that there were concerns that some schools were not welcoming to children with SEND but that it was hard to get concrete evidence of this.

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Ofsted is inspecting schools where there are concerns that pupils may have been off-rolled.

The inspectorate defines off-rolling as the "practice of removing a pupil from the school roll without using a permanent exclusion, when the removal is primarily in the best interests of the school, rather than the best interests of the pupil".

Mr Imich, the DfE’s professional adviser for SEND, raised the issue of off-rolling at a Westminster Education Forum conference on SEND provision in London today.

He said: “There are concerns about off-rolling. I had never heard the word 'off-rolling' two years ago. I can’t seem to escape it now.

“But I am pleased that there does seem to be action, and I was reading an Ofsted report a couple of weeks ago which shows that this is something which Ofsted is tackling.”

He also highlighted concerns that some schools are not welcoming to children with SEND.

Mr Imich said: “That has always been an issue where one hears stories on the grapevine…It is very hard to get the concrete evidence but anyone in this room who regards themselves as a leader of SEN has a duty to respond to that when they hear about it.”

Ofsted has published three reports this week that have raised concerns about pupils being removed from the roll of their school.

Holte School in Lozells, Birmingham has been downgraded from "outstanding" after its leadership was criticised for off-rolling pupils.

It has been found to "require improvement" in its latest inspection report.

Tes revealed yesterday that Ofsted inspected a school run by the high-profile Inspiration Trust because of concerns about pupil movement and potential off-rolling.

Inspectors questioned why pupils in alternative provision were taken off the roll of East Point Academy in Lowestoft in Year 11 and said leaders could not show why this was in their pupils' best interests.

However, the report did not state that off-rolling had taken place at the school and said that this practice no longer takes place.

A report into Saint Edmund Arrowsmith Catholic High School in Liverpool, which has been rated as "inadequate", also highlighted that the school had previously removed a small number of Year 11 pupils who were attending alternative provision from the school register.

The report, published today, said this was not done with the pupils’ best interests in mind but that leaders ensure that this does not happen anymore.

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