Headlines: March 11th, 2002

New research has shown that modern living is posing a considerable challenge on schools. Excessive turnover of pupils in some schools has been blamed for poor performance.An OFSTED report, Managing Pupil Mobility, records that there are some primary schools with a pupil turnover of 80 per cent and that secondary schools in inner London have double the level of mobility of secondary schools elsewhere.

Among the causes of pupils changing schools at other than the usual change points includes housing relocation, family break-up, seasonal labour, the movement of Traveller families or the settlement of refugees and asylum-seekers.

The report fails to ‘nail’ such mobility as the cause of poor attainment, because as the report points out, change in school often occurs alongside other factors, such as disrupted family life. What it does show is how schools can have a big impact on how the impact of changing schools, in performance terms, can be minimised.

Steps taken by schools to help manage high mobility levels include forging good relationships early on with parents and carers so that issues of immediate concern – such as medical conditions, systems of contact, school uniform, free school meals and homework – can be sorted out early on.

Some schools have been highlighted for giving new pupils information packs, prompt induction and explanation of school routines. Other schools make a big effort to be quick about getting information on attainment from pupils’ previous schools and disseminating this to their new teachers.

Managing Pupil Mobility ref HMI 403 is available on the OFSTED website at www.ofsted.gov.uk