The Mayor of London and Police and Crime Commissioners across the country have jointly called on the Prime Minister to outlaw ‘off-rolling’, which sees pupils disappear from school registers without having been formally excluded.
Growing evidence shows that the most vulnerable children in society are more likely to be either permanently excluded from school or off-rolled, while research shows those excluded from mainstream education are at significantly greater risk of becoming involved in or affected by serious youth violence.
Sadiq Khan was raising concerns about the way in which some schools are removing some young people from formal education to protect the school and its image – including attempts to boost performance in exam league tables – when it’s clear how vulnerable these children become to being sucked into criminality.
Figures show the number of exclusions is increasing, with the number of young people permanently excluded having risen by 56 per cent across England between 2013/2014 and 2016/2017. Over the same period, the number of permanent exclusions has increased in the West Midlands by 62 per cent and 40 per cent in London.
In its 2017/18 annual report, Ofsted identified off-rolling as a problem with some schools removing a pupil from the school roll without a formal, permanent exclusion, when the removal is primarily in the interests of the school rather than the young person.
Ofsted says the most vulnerable children are more likely to be excluded or off-rolled. This is backed up by the Children’s Commissioner who has stated more needs to be done to keep pupils in mainstream education. In a report to London’s Violence Reduction Unit, the Commissioner has said exclusions hit disadvantaged and vulnerable young people disproportionately and that early years provide the best opportunities for interventions.
“We are investing in our policing as much as the Government will allow us to do, plus further investing in early intervention projects across our regions. Yet so many of the causes of violent crime are out of our control, but in the hands of the Government. That is why it is high time the Government matched our ambitions and showed clear leadership on this issue.”