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Off-rolling: what is it and why do governors need to know about it?

There has been a lot of press lately about off-rolling and Ofsted issuing notices to schools and academies because of it.

The trouble is that many of the people we speak to have a slightly different idea of what actually constitutes off-rolling, what is acceptable, and what is not.

Ofsted’s definition of off-rolling is ‘the practice of removing a pupil from the school roll without using a permanent exclusion when the removal is primarily in the interests of the school’.

So, what should governors be looking out for? What information should they be asking for from senior leaders to ensure that such practices are not taking place in their school?

Here are some ideas:

  1. Student roll: governors should regularly be seeing the numbers on roll. They should be receiving reports broken down by year group so that they can clearly see patterns around whether the numbers in exam or assessment years are lower than in others.
  2. Mid-year leavers: governors should be receiving reports on how many children have left the school in each year group.
  3. Exclusion data: governors should be receiving termly data on internal and external exclusion and any new off-site provision or intervention that the school is putting in place.
  4. Reduced timetabling: if the school decides to put a reduced timetable in place for any pupil, there should be a clear procedure in place and governors should be assured that staff are monitoring each case of this closely to ensure that it is only being done in the best interests of the pupil in question and that it is not in place for any extended periods of time.

Using all this data, governors need to be asking questions about any odd patterns in student roll numbers and the reasons that students are leaving. Special attention should be paid to any reduced timetabled and dual rolled pupils, so that any pattern that could be perceived as off-rolling is discussed and challenged effectively.