Academy that removed pupils 'without good reason' branded 'inadequate'

A Nottingham academy that removed pupils from its roll “without good reason” has been branded ‘inadequate’ by Ofsted.

Hall Park Academy, part of the Redhill Academy Trust, has been downgraded from ‘good’ after Ofsted found leaders’ decisions to remove pupils were not made in their best interests.

We feel that this part of the new framework is grossly unfair

However, the school has disputed Ofsted’s decision and claimed it is being “punished on a technicality” under the watchdog’s new framework.

In the report, which was published this week, inspectors found the school had “let down some pupils who attend alternative provision” and “leaders have removed some of these pupils from the school’s roll without good reason”.

The report said leaders did not have “convincing explanations as to why pupils had been removed from the roll” when asked by inspectors how the move to alternative provision was in the pupil’s “best interests”.

The findings come as Ofsted is seeking to investigate unexplained pupil exits from schools and clamp down on the practice of off-rolling.

The watchdog defines off-rolling as the removal of a pupil from a school’s roll without a permanent exclusion and when the removal is primarily in the best interests of the school, rather than the pupil.

In Hall Park’s case, inspectors found that pupils who attend alternative provision “are not able to enjoy the school’s many benefits”.

“In removing these pupils from the school’s roll, leaders have not always acted in pupils’ best interests.”

However, Redhill Academy Trust insisted Ofsted had found no evidence of off-rolling at the school.

The watchdog admitted that “some pupils” attending alternative provision were “doing well”, with their progress and attendance monitored.

But this was not the case for all of them, and governors have “not held leaders to account for their use of alternative provision”, Ofsted said.

The school earned a ‘good’ rating in all areas apart from leadership and management – where it was rated ‘inadequate’.

Executive headteacher Stephanie Dyce said the school had been “punished on a technicality” under the new framework “which now puts the onus on schools to keep detailed records of former pupils who are transferred to alternative provision”.

Dyce, who said she was “deeply disappointed” with the report, added: “We only ever find alternative provision for pupils as a last resort and I dispute Ofsted’s remarks that we have let them down.”

The school has “always kept in close contact with the alternative provider”, she added, with the only alternative for “challenging” students who “disrupt the education of others” to permanent exclude, which they “avoid at all costs”.

Kevin Edwards, chair of the school’s governing body, said consequences of the finding mean more pupils may now be excluded. “Legally, we are not responsible for these students once they are officially off-roll although we regard our ethical duty to liaise closely with the new alternative education providers.”

He added: “The whole school community is in shock by the report and we feel that this part of the new framework is grossly unfair to us and all secondary schools who have the welfare of all our students at heart.”

Analysis by the inspectorate released last year found the number of schools with “exceptional” levels of pupil movement had risen by 13 per cent in just one year.

Hall Park’s report also highlighted that the school currently offers a two-year key stage 3, but noted that leaders were “reviewing whether this model allows all pupils to achieve as well as possible”.

Schools Week has previously reported on how the watchdog has criticised schools for running such a system under its new inspection framework, despite claiming not to have a preference.