We are working with a sector that contains a growing level of dubious and often illegitimate activity

Schools.co.uk not only sends emails to schools on behalf of its clients – it also runs a number of companies that sell into school. We do this so that we can monitor school responses to adverts, while watching the state of the schools market – and passing on the information we gain to our clients.

One such company owned by Schools.co.uk is the Dyscalculia Centre, and because of our public profile we get a lot of emails from parents concerned about their child’s situation at school.

And what is concerning is the rise in the number of parents who are reporting that schools are not fulfilling their legal responsibilities in providing education to meet the special needs of individual children.  It is the sort of report that we never used to get seven or eight years ago.

A further suggestion that something is singularly amiss in the education system has come with a report that says that around one in 10 children experienced what are known as “unexplained exits” from their school.

Most typically these exits arise when a parent is persuaded to remove a child from school either because the child has special needs which the school does not wish to cater for (even though it is obliged to by law) or because the school is trying to keep its academic success rate up and is off-loading under-performing children.

Such “unexplained exits” are illegal – schools cannot within the law off-load children for academic or special needs reasons, and so pressure is put on the parents to remove the children, but hence no reason is given for their departure. The process is also known as “off-rolling”.

The data come from the Education Policy Institute which has analysed the figures from across England in great detail and suggests that the practice is particularly prevalent in specific LAs and multi-academy trusts.

In other words these processes have become regular, although undercover, policies rather than being something that happens occasionally in extreme circumstances.

Indeed some schools have six times the average number of unexplained exits, showing just how extreme the approach is becoming.

Jo Hutchinson, report author and director of social mobility and Vulnerable Learners at the Education Policy Institute, said: “This research shows that there are thousands of pupils in England routinely removed from schools with no apparent explanation. While certain groups of schools display very high rates of pupil exits, it is also clear that this phenomenon pervades the entire school system, and requires intervention at a national level.”

As a result the government has said it will make schools accountable for excluded pupils and will shut down off-rolling.

However the fact that the process has grown at all is itself a reflection of the huge decline in the number of Ofsted inspectors now working in the system.

The main political parties have both promised to invest heavily in schooling once a government is formed after the next election and this will most likely be one of the first issues that will be tackled.

If you need any information about how the schooling system is working, what is happening, and what is about to happen, we’ll certainly try to help provide it. Obviously detailed research is something that we do specifically for our customers, but if we have the information in relation to a question to hand we can normally share it, unless it has been gathered for a specific client.

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