Today’s Education in the Media blog addresses the Times’ investigation into unlawful exclusions in schools.
Today, Tuesday 28 August, the Times published a piece on their investigation into the practice of ‘off-rolling’ in schools. This refers to the allegation that some schools are removing pupils from their registers so that their results do not negatively affect the school in league tables.
The practice of excluding pupils based on academic results is not only unacceptable, but also unlawful. Exclusions should only ever be used as a last resort to combat poor behaviour.
However it is important to note that not every child who disappears from a school’s register has been excluded – some may have moved away or entered independent education.
A Department for Education spokesperson said:
Informal or unofficial exclusions are unlawful and we wrote to schools last year to remind them of the rules on exclusions. Any school ‘off rolling’ on the basis of academic results is quite simply breaking the law.
Any decision to exclude a pupil should be reasonable and fair, and permanent exclusion should only ever be used as a last resort. Our statutory guidance for schools states that they must consider the underlying causes of poor behaviour before excluding a pupil.
While we know that there has been an increase in exclusions there are still fewer than the peak ten years ago. We have launched an externally led review to look at how exclusions are used and why certain groups are disproportionally affected.