Off-rolling: how to identify and prevent it

Ofsted will look for evidence of 'off-rolling' in your permanent exclusions practice. Find out what it is – and what it isn't – as well as what you can do to address it in your school.

Last reviewed on 22 August 2022
School types: All · School phases: All
Ref: 37257
  1. What is off-rolling?
  2. Scenarios: what counts as off-rolling and what doesn't?
  3. Inspectors will look out for off-rolling 
  4. Use these tips to help you prevent off-rolling
  5. Concerns you've been off-rolling

What is off-rolling?

Off-rolling is using unlawful means to remove pupils from school rolls. It will be considered during an Oftsted inspection. 

Where inspectors find evidence of off-rolling, they're likely to judge the leadership and management of your school to be inadequate (see paragraph 372 of the School Inspection Handbook). This will result in your school receiving an overall inadequate judgement.

Ofsted's definition

There's no legal definition of 'off-rolling', but Ofsted defines it as:

The practice of removing a pupil from the school roll without a formal, permanent exclusion or by encouraging a parent to remove their child from the school roll, when the removal is primarily in the interests of the school rather than in the best interests of the pupil. Off-rolling in these circumstances is a form of ‘gaming’.

See paragraph 371 of the School Inspection Handbook linked above.

Your school should only permanently