Responding to a new report published today (Thursday 18 April 2019) by the Education Policy Institute (EPI) into unexplained exits from schools’ rolls, Paul Whiteman, general secretary of NAHT, the union which represents leaders in the majority of schools, said: “It is welcome that EPI have taken the research in this area further; much of the previous data was superficial and this report starts to make headway into what is happening across the system.
“It is important not to conflate and condemn all the different reasons a pupil might leave a school’s roll. Every individual circumstance is different. School leaders make recommendations and decisions in the best interests of individual children and their school, within the constraints of the system in which they work.
“To be clear, the practice of off-rolling a pupil to ‘game’ the data is wrong. But not all unexplained pupil exits are off-rolling, and this report still cannot tell us exactly how widespread bad practice is. If we can identify the true extent of questionable practice and its root cause we can ensure that schools are supported to make better decisions. But this mustn’t be at the expense of the majority of schools, who may have exits which are unexplained but are actually for valid reasons.
“What we do know is that school budgets are at breaking point and many critical interventions for our most vulnerable young people are being cut. Schools are increasingly struggling to find the necessary resources to support young people at risk. Added to that, the extraordinarily high-stakes accountability system, so reliant on academic attainment, does not reward the most inclusive practices. This must change. We need a system that supports all schools to do what is best for their students on an individual basis, with full resources and a supportive accountability regime.”
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