“Some of England’s most influential academy chains are facing fresh questions over the number of children disappearing from their classrooms in the run-up to GCSEs, following a new statistical analysis of official figures.
The same four academy chains have the highest numbers of 15- 16-year-olds leaving their schools in both of the last two academic years. In some cases, two pupils are disappearing from the rolls for every class of 30. Some local authorities are also approaching these figures for dropouts.
Fears have been increasing that some schools are “offrolling” – getting rid of students who could do badly in their exams – in an effort to boost their league table position.
The head of Ofsted, Amanda Spielman, is among those voicing concern. The inspectorate has yet to find a way to differentiate offrolling from cases where schools have acted in the best interests of children, but it has started to gather its own data.
Education Guardian looked at England’s 50 largest academy trusts and 50 largest local education authorities, and compared the number of pupils in year 11 in 2017-18 – the students counted when GCSE results are published – to the number in year 10, a year earlier.
The findings reveal a consistent pattern in some chains of year groups shrinking substantially. The same four trusts fill the top four places in our table (below) on 2017-18 data and on data for 2016-17. The trend of disappearing pupils appears to be happening at a higher rate in the academies sector. …”