Tackling inequalities faced by Gypsy, Roma and Traveller communities: Government and Ofsted response to the Committee’s Seventh Report of Session 2017–19

Appendix 2: Ofsted Response

Recommendation 16: Schools should, as part of their responsibilities under the Public Sector Equality Duty, be challenging race and gender stereotypes wherever they encounter them. Ofsted should ensure that inspectors are actively inspecting schools for gender and racial stereotyping or signs of sexism or racism from either pupils or staff.

Ofsted Response:

Ofsted always look at how schools deal with discriminatory and prejudicial behaviour.

As the Committee’s report points out, schools have duties under the Equality Act to have due regard to the need to eliminate discrimination, harassment, victimisation and any other prohibited conduct and to advance equality of opportunity between persons who share a relevant protected characteristic and persons who do not. Ofsted inspectors consider schools’ compliance with these Equality Act duties (and relevant guidance) when carrying out inspections, as required by our own duties under the Equality Act .1

On all inspections, inspectors will ask schools for the records they hold on bullying, discriminatory and prejudicial behaviour. That will include racist and sexist bullying, use of derogatory language and racist incidents. We will also ask pupils about their experiences of discriminatory and prejudiced behaviour, and, where schools are failing to meet their duties, it will have an impact on the leadership and management judgement.

Recommendation 19: Schools have a duty to proactively plan for how they will have conversations with Gypsy, Roma and Traveller parents about what relationship and sex education involves and what parents’ options are for their children, short of removing them from school. These plans should be explicit and Ofsted should take them into account during inspections and assess schools accordingly.

Ofsted Response:

Ofsted will always take account of what work a school has done to tailor their curriculum to the needs of their pupils.

The committee will be aware of the Department for Education’s new Relationships and Sex Education and Health Education curriculum that schools will be able to teach from 2019 and must teach from 2020. Schools need to decide for themselves what an appropriate way to address these issues is in their school. That will need to take account of the needs of pupils in that school, including Gypsy, Roma and Traveller pupils, among others.

Where a school is failing to meet its obligations, inspectors will consider this when reaching the personal development judgement.

Recommendation 37: Schools have responsibilities to support and educate young Roma people. Internal and informal exclusions of Roma children should not be used as a mechanism to improve exclusion rates. Ofsted should actively inspect schools for signs of Roma students being internally or informally excluded.

Ofsted Response:

Ofsted will always look for signs that any pupil has been of off-rolled2

Ofsted is clear that schools should have an inclusive culture where the needs of pupils are met and identified to ensure they engage positively with the curriculum, have a positive experience of learning and achieve positive outcomes. Used correctly, exclusion is a useful measure for headteachers, but any exclusion of a pupil must be legal and justified, and permanent exclusions should only be used as a last resort. Schools should have a strategy for reintegrating a pupil who returns to school following a fixed-period exclusion and for managing their future behaviour.

Ofsted will request schools to provide, prior to starting any school inspection, records and analysis of exclusions, pupils taken off roll, incidents of poor behaviour and any use of internal isolation. As such inspectors will always consider any signs of internal and informal exclusion, as well as formal and permanent exclusion. Where inspectors find evidence of any form of off-rolling taking place, it will be addressed in the inspection report, and (depending on scale and impact) in their leadership and management judgement.

Ofsted has expressed concern about off-rolling in its latest annual report.3 Our proposed new inspection framework will allow us to better identify and report on those schools that might be off-rolling.

1 HM Chief Inspector of Education, Children’s Services and Skills v Interim Executive Board of Al-Hijrah School (Secretary of State for Education and others intervening) [2017] EWCA Civ 1426

2 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’.

Published: 2 July 2019