BRADFORD Council has been criticised for how it handled information that local schools had been "off-rolling" problem pupils.

Off-rolling is when a school removes a pupil from its rolls without a formal exclusion. It can include urging parents to home school their children. The process, which is illegal, is often used to remove problem pupils from schools to make results seem more impressive.

At a recent meeting of Bradford Council it was revealed that a number of local schools were discovered to be "off-rolling" in 2017. Councillors were informed that Council "addressed this with schools, offering challenge to leadership teams where patterns of off rolling are identified.

But one Councillor feels that the schools should have been reported to police, or at least schools inspection body Ofsted.

Councillor David Ward (Lib Dem, Bolton and Undercliffe) has been investigating the issues of excluded and off rolled children in the district for the past year. At a meeting of the full Council on Tuesday, Cllr Ward put forward a motion calling for the Secretary of State for Education to introduce legislation requiring people who exercise their right to home educate their children to register with their Local Authority and to give Councils the right to enter the homes of all those on the register to carry out inspections.

Councillor to look into education offered to Bradford's excluded pupils

He also called for the Council to "take measures to identify any schools in Bradford who are guilty of off-rolling and to report those schools to Ofsted."

He was not allowed to speak to present his petition during the meeting.

The leading Labour party submitted an amended motion calling off-rolling "immoral" and agreeing to "continue the good work being undertaken locally" and to "challenge" schools found to be off-rolling. The motion mentions the Council had evidence of schools off-rolling in 2017.

Cllr Ward questioned if the amended motion was legal - as it seemed to admit the Council knew an illegal act had been committed and not reported it.

He said: "Why were those schools not reported to Ofsted? Why were those schools not reported to the Children's Overview and Scrutiny Committee? Is this once more an example of the kind of secrecy that led to the failure of Children’s Services in its Ofsted Inspection?"

The Labour motion was voted through. After the meeting Cllr Ward told the Telegraph & Argus he felt the schools should have been reported to Police and Ofsted.

A spokesperson for Bradford Council said it has a policy of challenging the school about off-rolling, and will report them if they fail to resolve the issue.

They said: “Our approach to off-rolling is clear: It should not happen and schools must put the interest of the child first. If the Council is made aware of a concern about off-rolling, we act immediately and take up the issue directly with the school. If the issue is not resolved, we would report it to Ofsted and, in the case of an academy, the Regional Schools Commissioner and Education and Skills Funding Agency.

"We will continue to work with schools, the Department for Education and Ofsted to make sure schools in our district are clear about Ofsted’s expectations on this issue.”