ASCL response to EPI report on unexplained pupil exits

18 April 2019

Commenting on the report by the Education Policy Institute (EPI) on unexplained pupil exits from English schools, Geoff Barton, General Secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, said:

This report raises important questions about why pupils are leaving schools for unexplained reasons, and we need to confront the uncomfortable reality that at least some of these unexplained exits may be the result of pupils being illegitimately ‘off-rolled’ by schools. This is a practice in which a school encourages a parent to withdraw their child in order to improve the standing of the school in performance tables. It is entirely unacceptable and is abhorred by the vast majority of schools

The number of unexplained exits uncovered in the research is worryingly high, and the fact that certain vulnerable pupil groups are particularly likely to be affected is also worrying. However, we should keep in mind that many parents make the decision to move or home-school their child for their own reasons and without any pressure being applied. 

We welcome the EPI’s intention to publish further research to examine exactly where these unexplained exits are occurring as this will enable multi-academy trusts and local authorities with particularly high exit rates to provide explanation and insight. We would caution against jumping to conclusions. This is a starting point for gaining a greater level of understanding about a complex issue. We hope this work will ultimately help to eradicate any use of off-rolling and ensure that no pupil is treated in such an appalling manner.”