Off-rolling: Dual-registered pupils and the school census

The issue of off-rolling has rightly attracted a lot of attention over the past year. Off-rolling can take several forms so it is difficult to provide an exhaustive list of what might, and might not, be deemed to be off-rolling. HMI Dan Owen’s blog from May 2019 is a useful reference point for school leaders who want to know more about how Ofsted inspects off-rolling. 

Ofsted defines off-rolling as:
"The practice of removing a pupil from the school roll without a formal, permanent exclusion or by encouraging a parent to remove their child from the school roll, when the removal is primarily in the interests of the school rather than in the best interests of the pupil. Off-rolling in these circumstances is a form of ‘gaming’."

The school census
Over the past year ASCL has been made aware of a particular type of off-rolling in which pupils who were dual-registered with a school and alternative provision become single-registered with the alternative provision (ie removed from the school’s roll) just before the census of their Year 11. 

As Dan Owen notes in his blog: “The statutory guidance on alternative provision makes it clear that pupils should be dual-registered if they are attending AP.” 

Removing these pupils from the school’s roll just before the census of Year 11 is likely to be viewed by inspectors as off-rolling if this was not clearly in the pupils’ best interests. We recognise it may not have been the intention of leaders to ‘off-roll’ such pupils and that in some areas such practices have been locally agreed ways of working. However, having discussed this issue with Ofsted, it is difficult to see what effect this is intended to achieve, other than to remove pupils’ results from the school’s figures. Keeping these pupils dual-registered is likely to be in the best interests of pupils.   

With the next census deadline due shortly, ASCL advises school leaders to be very cautious about removing Year 11 pupils from their roll who are dual-registered with an alternative provision. 

The new Ofsted handbook includes the following criteria for inadequate leadership and management:
"There is evidence that pupils have been removed from the school roll without a formal, permanent exclusion or by the school encouraging a parent to remove their child from the school roll, and leaders have taken insufficient action to address this."

If this form of off-rolling has happened in your school in previous years, the coming census is an opportunity for leaders to show they have taken action and that these practices have ceased. 

Please note, using alternative provision is not off-rolling. As Dan Owen writes: “Dual-registering a pupil with another school such as an alternative provider is also not off-rolling. This is because the pupil has not left the roll of their school.” 

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