Schools accused of ‘excluding weak pupils before exams’ to climb league tables

Thousands of badly performing pupils may have been expelled in the weeks before their GCSEs as state schools looked to boost their position in league tables, it is reported. The Evening Standard reports.

More than 30,000 pupils have not had their GCSE results recorded in tables despite previously appearing on school registers over the last three years, an investigation by the Times found.

The paper said there were 539,844 year 10 pupils at state schools in 2016, but only 526,956 had their results included in league tables a year later – a drop of 12,888.

The number removed before exams in the two years before that was 9,237 and 9,136, meaning 31,261 pupils have dropped out of the statistics since 2014.

But this figure also includes excluded students who have been sent to pupil referral units (PRU) – with the investigation saying 4,175 pupils were put in PRUs in the months leading up to exam season this year.

Matthew Coffey, Ofsted’s deputy chief inspector, said: “While we support the right of schools to exclude individuals who disrupt other pupils’ ability to learn, particularly those who exhibit violent or threatening behaviour, it is never acceptable to use exclusion to boost school performance.”

A Department for Education spokeswoman 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.”

Read more Schools accused of ‘excluding weak pupils before exams’ to climb league tables

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  1. Jane

    It has taken a long time for the mainstream press to catch up. Education Data Lab did work on this over 18 months ago.
    “Our research leads us to conclude that, in some cases, pupils are being ‘managed out’ of mainstream schools before this point with the effect of boosting the league table performance of the school which the pupil leaves.”
    “sponsored academies tend to lose more pupils after becoming an academy. No such trend is true of converter academies.” Jan 2017.
    Earlier pieces named individual Academy trusts, Harris in particular, but that piece seems to have disappeared. However, the TES reported on it:

  2. John

    OK .. amazing that Ofsted have taken this long to identify this ‘School Improvement’ strategy beloved of academies – more worrying is introduction of Draconian rules / Saturday morning baseline tests designed to change school cohort rather than improve teaching – which research has shown is a key strategy. So far no reward for schools persevering with the moral challenge of continuing to teach the most troubled and difficult students who almost inevitably underachieve but who desperately need the stability, boundaries and relationships that schools provide. Ofsted does little more than tell us the socio – economic Geography of school catchment areas and punish schools who are in the most difficult areas. Time for Ofsted to become a vehicle for school improvement and support able to target resources to areas where they are needed and for Inspectors to become part of National School Improvement Service.

  3. Jane

    It has taken a long time for the mainstream press to catch on to this. The problem was highlighted by Education Datalab in January 2017, based on research they had carried out and published in 2016. Concern was particularly highlighted about the number of pupils who were off rolled and were not registered at any other educational establishment and the higher percentage of off rolling carried out by sponsored academies (to pretend to have improved education).

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