Some academies ‘pay other schools to offload poor behaving students’

The Telegraph is reporting claims that a study has found failing academies are paying other schools to take on disruptive pupils in a bid to boost standards quickly. 

Professor Alex Hill, of the Centre for High Performance in Oxford, revealed headteachers are also excluding poor behaving students to rapidly improve a failing academy. 

Speaking at the Global Education and Skills Forum in Dubai, Prof Hill presented the findings of a three-year study looking at how to turn around a failing academy, based on information from 160 academies that had all been put into special measures…

Prof Hill said: “The first thing you shouldn’t do is improve teaching first. This is a common mistake. Lots of schools thought that the answer was just to put in great teachers.

“We found that actually, was not a good use of resources. It didn’t make sense to put good teachers into a school that had poor governance, poor leadership, operated across a lot of different sites and had poorly behaving students. Because they couldn’t have the impact they should have.” 

Schools should also not reduce class sizes, as this has a minimal impact, the academic said, adding that it is more important to improve student behaviour and motivation…

“We found the fastest way to do that, which a lot of the academies do, is to significantly reduce the number of students you teach by excluding poor behaving students, in some instances we found they actually pay other schools to teach those students for them. 

“Or, which is quite common practice, you build a new school that’s a lot smaller than the existing school so that you have the opportunity to change the student profile. 

“So those are the practices we saw, very common, and that was the fastest way to change your student profile. I think we would all argue, it’s not the right solution for society in the long term. 

“A better long-term practice that we saw was to create multiple pathways within the school and to take the poor behaving students and move them into another pathway so that they could be managed differently and then re-integrated when their behaviour improves.” 

Prof Hill, who said he has sent his research to the Department for Education, said that part of the challenge for schools is that they are under-pressure to show improvement quickly…

More at: Unruly pupils ‘excluded by failing academies to boost standards’


There are obviously some very controversial soundbites in Professor Hill’s comments here but it will be fascinating to see his research in full, assuming it is made available in due course.

Your feedback and reactions on what he has said so far (and there is more on behaviour in the full article)?

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  1. wasateacher

    In other words, exclude pupils to make it appear that the school has improved, without making any improvement at all.  This underlines, yet again, the madness in the current education policy.  It is not about real improvement or real education.  It is just about window dressing – no wonder the UK is not doing well in international comparisons.

    The academy programme is like a train with the wheels coming off, but the driver ignoring the noise.

  2. paulinelimen

    SchoolsImprove There’s a clear correlation between behaviour and achievement. Parents need support along their parenting journey

  3. The key seems to be to improve intake quality.  This can be done by dumping pupils likely to bring down league table position on to other schools;  discourage such pupils from applying by tweaking admissions criteria, increasing uniform costs, implying parents should pay regular ‘voluntary contributions’, or just bluntly saying the pupil would be better of elsewhere; invest in glossy marketing; setting up satellite provision which will take any ‘challenging’ pupils and take them off the main school’s roll…

  4. wasateacher The improvement is often pseudo improvement.  
    That said, the UK is doing better in international league tables than is commonly known (although I wouldn’t say this reflects the quality of education offered to children in England – there’s too much emphasis on results which risks shallow learning).   The Trends in Maths and Science Survey 2011 still ranks England among the top countries for primary maths (Northern Ireland does even better).  And in PISA, the go-to league table for politicians, UK pupils scored at the OECD average in Reading and Maths in 2012 and ABOVE the OECD average in Science.
    That’s not to say everything is brilliant – it isn’t.  But the emphasis on getting UK pupils (especially those in England) up PISA’s greasy pole is distorting education – reducing education to only that which can easily be measured.   Gove said anything that can’t be externally assessed is mere ‘play’.

  5. rkieran

    davewhitaker246 jdavis100 JarlathOBrien SchoolsImprove better still…tell the parents a fresh start at x school would be best for all

  6. jdavis100

    Don’t know what to say. A rare occurrence for me. Speechless. davewhitaker246 JarlathOBrien SchoolsImprove

  7. HelpNetLife

    rkieran davewhitaker246 jdavis100 JarlathOBrien SchoolsImprove Popular euphemism for ffs let’s get rid

  8. HelpNetLife

    rkieran davewhitaker246 jdavis100 JarlathOBrien SchoolsImprove Popular euphemism for ffs let’s get rid

  9. JarlathOBrien

    rkieran I don’t get it. Law doesn’t allow illegal exclusions, by definition. Yet, what happens? Nothing.

  10. JarlathOBrien

    rkieran I don’t get it. Law doesn’t allow illegal exclusions, by definition. Yet, what happens? Nothing.

  11. JarlathOBrien

    rkieran I don’t get it. Law doesn’t allow illegal exclusions, by definition. Yet, what happens? Nothing.

  12. samthewestie

    davewhitaker246 jdavis100 JarlathOBrien now with Morgan’s new plan. Unless your straight A super student your stuffed.

  13. CfHPerformance

    Check out our guest post on SchoolsImprove this week by Professor Alex Hill. Tweet us any questions and we will address them in our post

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