Thousands leave school system for unknown reasons

The Education Policy Institute (EPI) has published analysis of unexplained pupil exits from English schools.

For those expected to have completed year 11 in 2017, as many as 8.1 per cent of the entire pupil population were subject to moves that cannot be accounted for (with over 55,300 exits by 49,100 pupils).

This is higher than those that were due to finish year 11 in 2014. For these pupils, 7.2 per cent moved between schools or left the school system completely, and this was not explained by family reasons for moving (with around 49,100 exits by 44,300 pupils).

For the first time, the research takes into account pupils removed from school rolls due to family reasons, and could point towards the action of “off-rolling” – where schools informally remove pupils in order to boost GCSE results, or for other reasons.

In the 2011 year group, over the course of 5 years, 7.8 per cent of pupils had moves that were unexplained by family reasons (with over 47,200 exits by 46,800 pupils).

Just 330 schools in England (or 6 per cent of schools) account for almost a quarter (23 per cent) of the total number of unexplained pupil exits in the school system, in the 2017 cohort.

In these six per cent of schools, the equivalent of an entire class of pupils (30 children) from one year group was removed from the school rolls with no explanation over the course of secondary school.

EPI’s second report (summer 2019) will examine exactly where these unexplained pupil exits in the school system are occurring, and will highlight multi-academy trusts (MATs) and local authorities with particularly high exit rates.

Several vulnerable learner pupil groups are particularly likely to leave schools’ rolls for unknown reason, such as those in the social care system, those from black ethnic backgrounds or disadvantaged pupils.


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