Ofsted backs education committee's call for new 'inclusion measure'

Ofsted has thrown its weight behind the parliamentary education committee’s call for a new “inclusion measure” that would incentivise schools to keep troubled pupils on their books.

In its ‘Forgotten Children’ report in July, the cross-party committee said schools should be made accountable for the children they exclude.

The number of children excluded from schools in England has risen in each of the past three years, prompting concerns among ministers.

In the report, the committee called on the government and Ofsted to introduce an “inclusion measure or criteria that sits within schools to incentivise schools to be more inclusive”.

In a response to the report, Ofsted said it would welcome “any measure” that identifies schools were leaders’ inclusive practice has a positive impact on pupils’ outcomes.

Chief inspector Amanda Spielman has made a crackdown on ‘off-rolling’ one of the main focuses for the inspectorate.

Research by Ofsted has found that between 2016 and 2017, more than 19,000 pupils did not progress from year 10 to year 11 in the same state-funded school. Around half of these pupils did not reappear in the census for another school.

It’s not clear how the inclusion measure recommended by MPs would work. Education select committee chair Robert Halfon has previously called for excluded pupils to be protected by a “bill of rights”.

Children’s minister Nadhim Zahawi

Labour has pledged to revive a proposal once outlined by former education secretary Nicky Morgan to keep schools accountable for pupils forced out. Under the proposals, the attainment and outcomes of pupils permanently excluded or otherwise pushed out will continue to count towards their previous school’s league table performance – until they find another permanent school place

This was included in Morgan’s white paper in 2016, but never came to fruition.

In an exclusive interview with Schools Week at the Conservative Party conference earlier this month, children’s minister Nadhim Zahawi pledged to take action against any school or multi-academy trust found to be illegally off-rolling pupils.

In a message to schools, he insisted the government would pursue all institutions that break the law.

“Hear me, here and now. It is illegal. When the government says it is illegal, it means it is illegal and therefore we take action,” he said.