According to Birmingham Live, more than 2,200 pupils in Birmingham and the West Midlands are ‘disappearing’ from the school roll just before they sit their GCSEs.
The shock revelation has been branded ‘disgraceful and unethical’ amid concerns it could be fuelling youth crime.
Schools watchdog Ofsted has vowed to make the issue one of its targets in future schools inspections across the West Midlands.
The practice, known as off-rollling, means pupils disappear from the school roll between Year 10 and Year 11, often without the school knowing where they are. Some are expelled, some provided with alternative schooling – but the fate of many is unknown and, in some cases, could involve illegal practices.
Ofsted’s West Midlands assistant director James McNellie, presenting Ofsted’s annual report for the West Midlands: “We are now asking school leaders who those children are, and why they are leaving school at such a vital time in their education.
“Some will be perfectly properly leaving for a range of reasons, but we have been discussing this issue for some time so are now making it part of our inspection criteria. We are really concerned about it and are identifying schools where this happens and will be having tough conversations.”
West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner David Jamieson met with Ofsted earlier this year to voice his concerns about high rates of exclusion in schools across the region, particularly in the last school year, and the off-rolling phenomenon.
He said: “We shouldn’t be giving up on them. What’s happening is the system is almost giving up on them, they’re dropping out of the system, and they become the customers of the Chief Constable don’t they?
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