Tuesday 18 September 2018 / 7:20 AM Angela Rayner / Education

Labour vows to tackle “off-rolling” scandal as thousands of students disappear off school rolls

  • Labour have announced steps to tackle “off-rolling” by removing perverse incentives which could reward schools when pupils leave the system
  • Funding loopholes will also be closed to ensure that there are no windows in which students can be removed from the roll of a school without consequences;

Labour will take steps to tackle the problem of pupils falling off school rolls and out of the education system, shadow education Angela Rayner MP has announced.

So-called off-rolling, where schools can improve their league table ratings when pupils believed likely to receive lower exam grades leave, has been an issue of rising concern in recent months. In June, analysis seen by Ofsted suggested that around 10,000 children leave the roll of a mainstream school between Year 10 and Year 11 but do not then appear on the roll of another mainstream school. This raises serious questions about where these students go on to be educated, if at all.

Ofsted’s analysis has also found that students who are already disadvantaged are the most likely to be affected. Those with special educational needs and disabilities, children eligible for free school meals, and looked-after children are more likely to be affected.

Labour will continue to track the attainment and outcomes of these pupils against their previous school, until they have another permanent school place. This will remove the perverse incentive where schools benefit from losing pupils, ensure that no school is able to off-roll a pupil without consequence and gives them an active stake in supporting the excluded pupil to find the best provision possible.

Similarly, it provides a clear incentive for schools to ensure that there is decent alternative provision for pupils who leave, and that they are properly supported in finding a new place rather than exiting the education system altogether.

In addition, Labour announced that they would close existing funding discrepancies that allow schools to receive funding for a pupil before they are counted towards exam results, creating a window in which students can be off-rolled with no accountability but after having generated additional revenue for the excluding school.

The announcement comes after the Conservatives had previously announced a similar policy that they went on to abandon.

Commenting, Angela Rayner MP, Labour’s Shadow Secretary of State for Education, said:

“Teachers and heads want to do the best for all their pupils but too often they find themselves caught in a system that doesn’t reward them for doing the right thing.

“As it is, some of the most vulnerable are being let down or falling between the gaps of an increasingly fragmented system and out of education altogether. There needs to be a clear responsibility for these children, and accountability for their educational outcomes. We must all take responsibility for our must vulnerable children, and that is why we will be reforming the accountability system to support them, while working with schools to move towards a system that is co-operative and does not drive workload, and giving them the resources they need to support all their pupils.”

“That is why Labour will close the loopholes and end the perverse incentives. This will ensure that there is no unintended reward for so-called off-rolling and give schools an investment in ensuring that excluded pupils move on to the best possible provision.”