Managed Moves in Educational Settings

Sara Spinks 25 June 2024 2 min read
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Certain issues often escape public scrutiny in the intricate web of educational policies and practices, quietly shaping students' lives in profound ways. One such issue is the practice of 'managed moves' – an alternative to permanent exclusions that remain largely hidden from view.

Whilst the spotlight often falls on permanent exclusions, a recent joint report by the Education Policy Institute (EPI) Unexplained school transfers and managed moves: Local protocols, practice and outcomes for pupils - Education Policy Institute ( and other educational bodies highlights the urgent need for attention to managed moves. This article delves into the findings of this report, revealing the pressing need for government intervention to address the deficiencies in oversight and safeguard the well-being of vulnerable students and their families.

Understanding Managed Moves

Managed moves represent agreements negotiated between school authorities, parents, and students to facilitate a transfer to a new educational setting, offering a potential fresh start. However, the lack of transparency and standardised recording surrounding these moves creates a significant gap in our understanding of their frequency and outcomes. Schools do not have to document the reasons for pupil departures, further complicating efforts to assess the impact of managed moves on students' lives.

Key Findings

The joint report reveals concerning statistics: annually, over 30,000 secondary school students are transferring schools, with approximately 5,000 managed moves recorded, indicating potential systemic issues or challenges in meeting student needs within their current educational environments. Moreover, inconsistencies in data collection imply that reported figures might underestimate the true extent of student mobility, hampering efforts to comprehend and tackle its root causes. Additionally, analysis of Local Authority policies uncovers substantial disparities in managing student moves, with certain areas lacking clear guidance or engagement from authorities, potentially exacerbating inequalities in educational support and opportunities for vulnerable students.

Concerns and Consequences

Despite being touted as a means to improve well-being and educational outcomes; managed moves often exacerbate exclusion from mainstream education. Many moves fail to secure stable placements, leading to subsequent exclusions or transfers to alternative provisions. A notable worry arises from the diminishing control for vulnerable students and their families, as decisions are frequently made without considering their preferences or requirements.

Calls to Action

The report highlights the urgent need for better data collection and oversight mechanisms at both local and national levels. Recommendations include establishing a central data reporting system to track pupil exits and reasons for departure. Additionally, measures such as fair access panels and independent representation of students' interests are proposed to ensure accountability and safeguarding.

The neglect of students undergoing managed moves represents a significant safeguarding failure, demanding immediate government intervention. Enhanced legislation and oversight are imperative to address the disparities and protect the rights of vulnerable students. By implementing these recommendations, policymakers can ensure that managed moves fulfil their intended purpose of providing a fresh start while prioritising the welfare of all students.

Further Insights from the Report

Beyond shedding light on managed moves, the report delves into the broader landscape of school transfers and their implications for pupils. It reveals that thousands of secondary pupils experience unexplained school transfers, disproportionately affecting vulnerable groups. Moreover, significant variations exist in the approach to managed moves among local authorities, highlighting the need for standardised protocols and oversight mechanisms.

Policy Recommendations from the Report

To address these challenges, the report advocates for the introduction of a centralised data reporting system to monitor all school moves, including managed moves. Additionally, it calls for enhanced monitoring of outcomes for pupils undergoing managed moves and emphasises the importance of informed government guidance on supporting young people with mental health and behavioural needs. Importantly, the report suggests involving an independent representative in the administration of managed moves to safeguard the best interests of students.

In conclusion, the joint report comprehensively analyses managed moves and their broader implications for the education system. By heeding its recommendations, policymakers can take meaningful steps towards ensuring equity, accountability, and the well-being of all students.

Sara Spinks

SSS Author & Former Headteacher

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