A leading Education Lawyer has today backed calls for multi-academy trusts and other groups of schools in England and Wales to be measured on whether they exclude or off-roll vulnerable pupils.
Recommendations from the Education Policy Institute (EPI) would see groups of schools judged on a wider range of measures that would monitor how inclusive they are.
This would include looking at acceptance rates of pupils that are eligible for free school meals, rates of repeated school exclusions, as well as the number of what is referred to as ‘unexplained’ exits each term.
Dan Rosenberg, an education lawyer at Simpson Millar, said: “Unfortunately, we regularly see schools trying to push out children or stop them from progressing in order to boost their performance.
“Off-rolling can have long term and devastating effects on the children concerned, with many unable to get into new schools and consequently dropping out of education completely.
“Any checks and measures that can be introduced to crack down on this deplorable activity, which disproportionately affects many of society’s most vulnerable children, would be most welcomed.”
The recommendations follow an Ofsted report in 2019 which revealed that one in four teachers in England have witnessed pupils being illegitimately removed from schools to boost a schools’ league table performance.
Dan added: “We can only hope that this latest paper will result in a crackdown on off-rolling and raise further awareness that this is happening in our schools right now.
“Every child has the right to education, and schools should not be able to get rid of children in order to boost their exam results and place in the league tables. We would encourage any parents whose children have been affected by off-rolling, or are under pressure to withdraw their child from school, to seek legal advice as soon as possible.
“Many parents may assume that they are powerless in this situation, but what they often don’t realise is that they could be eligible for legal aid, and we can assist them. Schools often back down when faced with legal action.”
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