From September 2019, schools will be routinely inspected by Ofsted in relation to the ‘off-rolling’ of pupils and it is important that all schools in Wandsworth make their weekly returns to the local authority via the leavers and starters system. This system was introduced in response to the revised regulations on children missing education in 2016 and helps to improve information between schools and the local authority to keep children safe in education.
Ofsted and ‘off-rolling’
The new Ofsted education inspection framework (EIF or ‘the framework’) has been devised by Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector for use from September 2019 and reflects relevant legislation for each type of setting and is accompanied by an inspection handbook for each of the four remits: early years, maintained schools and academies, non-association independent schools and further education and skills.
The practice of ‘off-rolling’ falls within leadership and management criteria, where schools will be judged by the extent to which all learners complete their programmes of study, and that leaders support staff to achieve this aim and do not allow ‘gaming’ by ‘off-rolling.’
Ofsted defines off-rolling as ‘the practice of removing a learner from the provider’s roll without a formal, permanent exclusion or by encouraging a parent to remove their child, when the removal is primarily in the interests of the provider rather than in the best interests of the learner. Off-rolling in these circumstances is a form of gaming.’
When an inspection finds evidence of off-rolling taking place, using Ofsted’s own definition, the inspector’s report will reflect this. Should it be apparent that the off-rolling is lawful, inspectors will take care to consider the context and be mindful of its impact. Questionable off-rolling may result in a school’s leadership and management being deemed as ‘inadequate’.
There are several reasons why a pupil is removed from a school’s roll. These can include when a pupil moves residence, or due to a formal permanent exclusion (following the proper process), or as a result of a parent’s notification to withdraw their child from school (without coercion from the school) to electively home educate. These would not usually be considering off-rolling, in the gaming sense.
Pupils who are dual-registered at two schools or accessing education at an alternative provider is also not off-rolling, as defined by Ofsted, because the pupil would remain on the roll of the school or schools.
Managed moves can be a form of off-rolling, but not when a school genuinely uses them in a pupil’s best interests – and inspectors may ask to see evidence of the ways in which these have been carried out.
The Ofsted school inspection handbook can be found online here
The education inspection framework can be found online here
Children missing education - leavers and starters off-roll notifications
Since 2017, schools have been notifying the local authority about pupils leaving or starting school at non-standard transition points throughout the academic year on a weekly basis. Over time, the number of schools complying with the regulations has increased and, more recently, the quality of the information provided has greatly improved.
The impact of improving information on children missing education has meant vulnerable families are identified early on, including parents withdrawing their children from school for home education. In these cases, the Education Welfare Service has been able to input into TAC (team around the child) meetings prior to off-rolling to ensure parents understand the ramifications of this important decision. Better information sharing, not just within Wandsworth but also with other local authorities, has also worked to establish children’s whereabouts and ensure their safety.
Schools must remember to complete all fields on the leavers and starters spreadsheet, especially:
1. The child’s personal details
2. The child’s new school destination, whether in the UK or abroad, if they have relocated to another country.
3. The child’s new address, wherever the family has relocated to.
4. If the child is being de-registered because their parent intends to home educate, the parent must notify the school in writing and the school must forward a copy of the letter to the Education Welfare Service. The letter can be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org and the local authority lead, Biddy Macintyre, invited to a TAC meeting in school.
A school may be in breach of the Education (Pupil Registration) (Amendment) (England) Regulations 2016 where it fails to provide all relevant information on a child leaving or starting within the set five-day period.
The EWS can provide advice and support on all matters related to children missing education and the leavers and starter system, including staff training.
All enquiries, please email: email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org