The management of school moves for disengaged pupils needs strengthening

Pupils at risk of disengagement or exclusion who seek a fresh start at a new school have a better experience when the school, local authority and family work closely together at an early stage. In the most successful examples, schools overcome potential barriers to managing the transfer of a pupil from one school to another by involving all parties in carefully planning the move.

Estyn’s report, ‘Effective use of managed moves by local authorities and schools’, examines the transfer of pupils who may have emotional and behavioural difficulties and are at risk of permanent exclusion, pose a risk to the welfare of others, or refuse to attend school. Effective case studies are included in the report to encourage local authorities and schools to reflect on their current practices.

Meilyr Rowlands, Chief Inspector, says,

Managing the move of a pupil to try out a new school for a fresh start can provide a realistic alternative to permanent exclusion and eliminate the use of unofficial exclusions as a way of managing challenging behaviour. In effective schools, a managed move is offered at an early stage of support to ensure pupils have the best opportunity to succeed and when appropriate can return to their home school.

Carefully managing these moves is a challenge for the majority of schools and one of the recommendations of today’s report is to strengthen the guidance to address inconsistencies in practice across Wales.

The report highlights Coedcae secondary school in Carmarthenshire which has strengthened its provision for vulnerable learners so that more pupils can maintain their place without the need to move to another school. Overcoming financial constraints, introducing new policies and training staff, the school ensures that any child who began to show signs of emotional or behavioural difficulty would have timely access to personal support. The school has seen a notable reduction in fixed-term exclusions and in managed move requests to the local authority.  Its inclusive ethos has also had a positive effect on pupil wellbeing and attendance. 

Current monitoring and tracking practices mean that there is no national data about the number of pupils undergoing a managed move.  Estyn inspectors recommend that the Welsh Government collects this data, as well as strengthening the guidance for schools and the legal rights for pupils who make a managed move to bring them in line with that for pupils who are permanently excluded. The 12 recommendations in the report also outline steps for local authorities and schools aimed at improving the experience and support for pupils moving schools and their families.

About the report

Publication date

Thursday, 29 March, 2018