School Roll

The rules governing how a pupil can be registered or deregistered from a school (placed on roll or taken off roll) are set out in the Pupil Registration Regulations 2006 as amended. PLEASE NOTE THAT THE 2006 REGULATIONS ARE TO BE REPLACED IN AUGUST 2024, MORE DETAILS HERE

Being Placed on Roll

It is only a parent who can register a child with a school. A child does not “become registered” at a school by the parent filling in a preference form or even by the school being named on the EHCP or ordered by the SEN tribunal. Read more about the school roll and EHCPs here

The child becomes a registered pupil from the “expected first day of attendance” which is the first day that the parent has agreed or notified the school that the child will attend. [Source = Regulation 5] This means that parents can DECLINE the school place BEFORE the child is first due to attend, rather than “deregistering”. My page on deregistration is here

Being Taken off Roll

Regulation 8 covers deletions from the admissions register and sets out the grounds on which a pupil’s name can be taken off roll. Schools are not allowed to remove the pupil’s name from the school roll under any other circumstances. NB this does not mean the child is obligated to attend in all circumstances. See my page on taking a child out of mainstream school for home education here (including with EHCP) and for taking a child out of special school here

Elective Home Education

Parents taking a child out of school to home educate come under Regulation 8 (1)(d) where it can be seen that one of the conditions is that the child has ceased to attend. In other words, the law does not provide for advance notification eg telling the school weeks or months ahead that the child won’t be coming back after the school holidays and in fact this can lead to problems, read more here

Informing the LA

Up to 2016 schools didn’t necessarily have to notify the local authority when they took a child off roll (although they always had to tell the LA when a child was leaving to be home educated). In 2016 this changed when the Department for Education amended the Education (Pupil Registration) (England) Regulations 2006. Children Missing Education Guidance was also updated to reflect the changes. See my page on CME here.

Rules about informing the local authority when a pupil’s name is removed from roll are set out in Regulation 12 although the has not yet been updated to reflect the 2016 changes to 12(3) THE 2006 REGULATIONS ARE TO BE REPLACED IN AUGUST 2024, MORE DETAILS HERE

Since 2016 all schools including independent schools have been required to: inform their LA when they are about to delete a pupil’s name from the admission register under all fifteen grounds set out in Regulation 8; record details of the pupil’s residence, the name of the person with whom they will reside, the date from which they will reside there, and the name of the destination school (where they can reasonably obtain this information); inform their LA of the pupil’s destination school and home address if the pupil is moving to a new school; provide information to their LA when registering new pupils within five days, including the pupil’s address and previous school (where they can reasonably obtain this information). Schools and local authorities also have to co-operate in tracking children coming out of school.

In addition, LAs now have discretionary power to require the same information about standard transition points, ie when a child of compulsory school age begins school at the start of the first year or leaves school at the end of the final year. The Local Government Association (LGA) and the Association of Directors of Children’s Services (ADCS) felt that the changes would help in identifying unregistered or illegal schools. My page on unregistered schools is here.


The term “off-rolling” does not have a unique agreed definition. It is not synonymous with illegal exclusion because some off-rolling scenarios fall within the law. FFT Education Datalab is worth reading on this.

Ofsted’s definition of offrolling is not straightforward. Ofsted defines it as “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.”

When Ofsted can be persuaded that the move off roll IS in the pupil’s interest (eg into alternative provision) this will NOT be categorised as off-rolling.