Ofsted’s decision to create separate judgments for ‘behavior and attitudes’ and ‘personal development’ is finally within reach. However, this is long overdue. I believe that this will help to begin to shift focus away from academic outcomes as there is too much emphasis on academic attainment and not enough focus on promoting the wellbeing of students, (which as teachers, is our main focus and drive) but does not to reflect the depth and breadth of learning that should be offered by your training provider in order to develop you as a person. Moreover, the new Ofsted inspection requiring seprate judgements in these categories will allow more room to assess education providers and provide a better reflection on just how good their curriculum really is (hence a more student centered) approach to well-being. An important factor that has been missing from previous iterations of Ofsted’s inspection framework.
Recently, there has be a rising number of students being excluded and we cannot ignore the issue. We have all become wiser to the methods used in schools seeking to expel “awkward’ pupils (even in our primary schools!) as a last resort we see a number of exclusions or an informal transfer called “off rolling” for our most vulnerable young people are being left “out of sight and out of mind” by a system that is quick to condemn them to a life without a proper education. It is believed that some schools are increasingly “playing” the system – getting rid of students who might do badly in their GCSE’s and compromise the school’s performance in league tables. (Controversial, I know).
In June 2018 an Ofsted investigation into the practice of “off-rolling” – where pupils disappear from the school register just before GCSEs – found that more than 19,000 pupils who were in year 10 in 2016 had vanished from the school roll by the start of year 11, the year when pupils sit their GCSEs. While many of those pupils moved to new schools and reappeared on roll elsewhere, around half disappeared without trace, raising concerns that a number will have dropped out of education altogether.
Young people are then handed a life sentence of being lost in the system and very little support to reengage with education, employment or training. So now, we have encouraging news from Ofsted we need to do more as educational providers. An interesting study by the Youth Index highlights the complexities and challenges that young people face. According to the report some 48 per cent of pupils said that they experienced problems during their school years that prevented them from concentrating on their academic work. Of these, 46 per cent pupils did not talk to anyone about their problems, mainly because they did not want other people to know that they were struggling.
Pupils abandoned by schools need to be accountable for their actions and source the main problems for disengagement, to how exclusions are used and why certain groups are disproportionally affected. Schools have a duty of care and a rigorous approach to support the well-being of young people. How far do schools go in auditing well-being for both staff and pupils in schools. We need an open forum on mental health and well-being and a neutral space to highlight concerns within schools. Intervention is key and pre-empting issues that may arise with young people is key. A school must be a safe haven for young people.