ome 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.
Out of the 50 biggest academy chains, the four that lost the most pupils were Delta Academies Trust, based in Wakefield, West Yorkshire, where there were 124 fewer pupils in January 2018 in year 11 than in January 2017 (year 10). That is a net reduction in pupil numbers of 6.98%, or two children in every class of 30. Second came Aldridge Education, based in central London, where there were 52 fewer pupils year-on-year, or 6.92% of the cohort; third was the Norwich-based Inspiration Trust, with 40 fewer pupils, a loss of 5.38%; fourth was the Harris Federation, based in south London, where numbers of pupils fell by 5.14%.