Off-rolling: how to identify and prevent it

Ofsted will look for evidence of 'off-rolling'. Find out what it is – and what it isn't. See what measures your board can put in place to hold your senior leaders to account and prevent off-rolling in your school.

Last reviewed on 15 March 2024See updates
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  1. What is off-rolling?
  2. Scenarios: what counts as off-rolling and what doesn't?
  3. Ofsted inspectors will look out for off-rolling
  4. Use these tips to prevent off-rolling in your school
  5. What to do if you suspect off-rolling

What is off-rolling?

Off-rolling is when a pupil is unlawfully removed from the school register. 

Ofsted's definition

Ofsted defines off-rolling as:

  • Removing a pupil from the school roll without a formal, permanent exclusion

Or, when the decision is made primarily in the interests of the school and not the pupil:

  • Encouraging:
    • A parent to remove their child from the school roll
    • A sixth form student not to continue with their course of study
  • Keeping a pupil on the school roll but not allowing them to attend school normally, without a formal permanent exclusion or suspension

See paragraph 412 of the School Inspection Handbook.

The DfE's stance on unlawful exclusions and off-rolling:

The exclusion is in response to a serious breach or persistent breaches of the school's behaviour policy; and Allowing the pupil to remain in school would seriously