‘Managed Move’ Or A Shifting Of The Problem?

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Helen Woodley

Helen Woodley is a primary trained SENDCo currently working in a large KS1-4 Pupil Referral Unit in the North East of England. She spent 3 years studying Theology in Durham; Helen has worked in a wide variety of special school settings, including all age schools....
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Are managed moves beneficial?

‘Managed Moves’ have been around for many years but, in recent times, they seem to be increasingly popular. The 2012 Government document ‘Exclusion from schools and pupil referral units in England’ discusses how they can be used by schools for pupils at risk of a permanent exclusion as a ‘fresh start’.

The concept of a fresh start is, at heart, very positive because it acknowledges the need for young people to get another chance within mainstream education. There may be several external factors about a school which have led to a young person presenting with challenging behaviour, such as bullying, which could be helped by leaving the school. Sometimes the young person may just simply unhappy be where they are. I know that I have left a job because it wasn’t the right environment so I can see why that could be the same for some young people too. A managed move to have a fresh start away from such issues seems sensible.

However, what about a managed move when the young person has issues that are internal not external? If moving schools simply means carrying the same concerns with you, then it is a different story unless the move allows you to access the support that you need to address your needs.

As PRUs (Pupil Referral Units) also cater for those at risk of permanent exclusion, I have seen wonderful managed moves where schools have seen the potential in a young person and put the necessary support in place. It has been great to see a young person thrive; never seeing them again is actually a great feeling as it has meant that the move was successful.

A Right Move?

More often, I have seen the opposite. Increasingly I am meeting young people who have been on multiple managed moves before ultimately being permanently excluded. Some young people have attended 4 or 5 different schools and this has served to delay them getting the support they have always needed. When we think about those internal needs, how does this help?

Imagine this scenario:

  • You are 13 and are on a managed move to a new school.
  • You have SEMH (Social, Emotional and Mental Health) needs and struggle to sustain peer relationships and you find it hard to relate to people.
  • You have low self-esteem, are fearful of failure and struggle to take even small risks.
  • Added to this you have moderate learning difficulties where you feel constantly baffled by the curriculum and have felt ashamed that you have had to have so much support.
  • You haven’t had any referrals to outside agencies.
  • You know that your behaviour hasn’t been great but you don’t really see that it is a problem either as no-one at home is worried about it.
  • Your current school was near your primary so you moved up into KS3 with the same peer group you had known for years but new school is a few miles away and you don’t know anyone there.
  • At your admission meeting your new school made it clear that you were on your last chance; permanent exclusion is hanging over your head like a large neon sign.

Just imagine you are that pupil. You haven’t had the social skills to cope with peer relationships that were familiar so how will your form new ones? You lack the emotional maturity to do cope with this by yourself yet you are being expected to walk in midway through the year and simply fit in. The SEMH needs you carry inside will simply move to that new school with you and, without support to address them, they will probably become issues again.

What Can Schools Do?

Whilst I appreciate that pupils with SEMH cause severe disruption for schools and that managed moves are needed, can we arrange them in a way that benefits the young person too? Here are a few ideas:

  1. Be honest and open about the young person’s needs. Too many managed moves fail because receiving schools were poorly informed about the young person’s they were taking in. Send all the paperwork including Support Plans which show what has worked and what hasn’t.
  2. Give receiving schools time to prepare. Surely it is better for them to have support in place, or at least investigated what support there is, before the young person starts?
  3. Arrange moves that fit in with the school year. Who would ever want to move two weeks into a half term and halfway through a topic?
  4. Remember that we are dealing with children. We might call them young people, pupils or learners but they are children.

Managed moves should be beneficial to all parties and that includes the young person.

31 thoughts on “‘Managed Move’ Or A Shifting Of The Problem?

  1. Hi Helen, I would be so grateful if you could advise me on a few issues with regards to my 14 year old and his ‘failed’ managed move. What you’ve said rings so many bells and I’m so worried for my child’s future.

    1. Happy to discuss anything as I can imagine your stress. Are you on Twitter? If not are you happy to write in public here or via email?

  2. Hi well, maybe you could help me understand something… Could i request your help with my 13 year old son, I removed him from school, the school off rolled him so he was no longer registered with the school. We got an offer to a new school after being put on waitting lists, now my son’s old school are insisting on a managed move is this legal as they off roled him any advise.
    Hope you can offer help

    1. Did you take him out formally saying you would educate him at home (you would have written to the school to say this or signed a letter allowing the school to take him off roll)? If not, it’s most likely that your Local Authority has picked up that he was not taken off roll legally.

      Seek legal advice asap – Ross has my email address and I’m happy for you to make contact. Otherwise, loads of good folk linked to teacher toolkit will help:)

  3. Hi

    It’s hard to judge without knowing the whole situation but the above post makes sense. It’s likely the school were told to put him back on roll. This may have been the case if you had not withdrawn him to educate him at home. This would have needed a letter indicating that you were doing this. If you had simply chosen not to send him to school, then he shouldn’t have ever been taken off the books.

    The two routes for moving schools would then be you electing to withdraw him and applying for a school place through the LA Placement Officer, or the school arranging a Managed Move.

    Managed Moves can be successful especially when there is a transition plan in place. If the school you had found us willing, the move could happen to them.

    Best thing to do at the moment is keep an open dialogue with the current school and document everything you do.

    I really hope it all works out for you and that your son finds a school he can thrive in.

  4. Thanks for advice, please do email me with any advice I would be so grateful for any advice.
    I did sign a letter to remove my son, head excepted I thought that was the end off it until, I got new school he has just put obstructions in the way, new school want to do everything above board which I totally understand but this should not be allowed he informed LA of off role I had them calling me all through the holidays as they wanted plans on how home ED was going to work… The evidence is there to say he was off rolled. Now everyone is protecting him as I believe he has broken the law. Home education don’t seem to be able to village an Acadamey school, they can’t help… So they have gone ahead with managed move without my consent.

  5. Hi,

    We made a managed move to my son from Grammar school into normal school after he was at risk of exclusion, but my son is not happy at all at the new school and it is well below his education standard, can I go back again to his grammar school as he still in his 13 weeks trial? and now he is wiser and more mature than the last year.
    Please advise.
    Many thanks

    1. Hi

      If he is still on the original schools roll then you could. But I would be prepared for a very tight contract from them regarding their expectations. A lot may depend upon how he has conducted himself on the move to the other school. A clean record will be in his favour.


  6. My daughter is 15 & has had 2 failed managed moves, we are waiting to see if her original school will take her back after half term. What happens if they say no just before het mock exams she only has 3 terms left & has saud she will work hard & has learnt from this she is a bright clever child who has got lost in the education system. She hated the school.she was at but is now happy to go back thete after what’s happened.

    1. Hi

      It will be at their discretion if she is not currently on roll. They will base a lot on how she has been at her current school and if they have space in her year. I would advise you to arrange a meeting with the school ASAP.


  7. Hi,

    I have a 10 year old boy who has been labelled with Social, Emotional and Behavioural issues. Hes yr 5 in primary school. I was called in last Tuesday, they want to put him into the local PRU but I’ve heard that they are not great. The other option is managed move. The school have been trying with my son for the past 3 years as his behaviour is up and down (Jekyll and Hyde example). They have said he has a complete disregard for authority. I have always tried my best to work with the school but it has come to this. I understand because I know how much hard work my son can be, more than anyone. I’m not sure what to do for the best. Advice I’m having from others is to go for statutory assessment but I know my son only seems to fit half of the criteria for such diagnoses as ADHD and ODD. Im torn in my thinking as to whether he chooses to be defiant or he reacts due to struggles. He has always been a live wire from birth as I had my concerns when he was a toddler. Ed psychologist have been involved both in nursery and within the past three years.

    I think a managed move sounds more appropriate than spending 6 weeks in PRU, I’ve asked for help from two separate organisations – one I’m waiting on, the other suggests assessment. Alot of this is completely new to me so I’m trying to do as much research as possible but the more I read the more confused I’m getting. I’m devastated that it’s gone this far but trying to put my emotions aside to deal with this. I’m just not sure what to do for the best.

    Any advice is welcomed, I’d appreciate any words of wisdom in this predicament.

    1. Hi Rhi – we have to assume the school is doing what is best for your child and that all possibilities have been exhausted. I would aim to meet/talk with all future stakeholders so that you are fully informed; the key thing is is that you, the school and your child is all part of the conversation. I definitely do not see any harm if seeking impartial advice for reassurance – all depends on if you feel supported by the current school and that you have had all your questions answered.

      Good luck.

  8. Hi,
    My son is on a 10 day exclusion from school. The letter confirming his exclusion has said that the reintegration meeting will include discussing the possibility of a managed move. I desperately want him to move schools, but due to safeguarding and other concerns with his present school, I do no trust their judgement in this matter. I need to find a school that will offer my son the support he needs. Am I within my rights to ask for time to do this? Is it better that I let him return to school, or would I be better keeping him home until I find a new school? I am so worried, but don’t want these decisions done to us, I want us to make them. I feel his current school has failed him in so many ways and any fresh start needs to be exactly right for him. I would appreciate any advice. Thank you.

  9. Hi, I am in desperate need of advice regarding v managed moves. If there is someone I can contact just to get some advice. I would prefer to discuss it. via email.

  10. Can you tell me whether, when a ‘managed move’ has been suggested by my son’s school (rather than expulsion), whether the parents & child get any choices? His current school seems to be pushing just one particular school (1 hour’s journey away) but we’d also like to consider a school only 15 minutes away.
    What rights to choice do we have?

  11. Can i please ask, my son is 13 and has always had problems with school. Appears to be an issue with the social side of the environment. School have openly said he is a different person 121 and is completly managable and not disruptive or disrespectful at home after failed attempts of school reports and a cico (check in check out) mentor my sons facing a managed moved but i really feel this will just pass the problem around. How can i approach this without feeling like im being obstructive with the school. I understand he is constantly low level disruptive and am torn between the decision for a managed move .

  12. I’m so angry at my school I’m in year 10 and they want to put me on a manage move for something I didn’t do an incident that happened yesterday the girls came up to me 5 of them it’s not my fault I tried to defend my self the school has lied straight to my face today made me come school only for 2:00pm ish to exclude me or 2 days and try shift me off that may look at it like a fresh start but that won’t work for me I don’t like people I don’t like teachers I’ve been betrayed by them in the past and lost a lot of friends due to how rude and fake there towards me .Someone who I thought cared for Mr betrayed me and made rumours about me that affected my friendship and image in the school .it knocked my confidence down no one was talking to me except for this one person who is now like a sister to me.we’re very tight imagine leaving her in that school when she doesn’t Like people either she will be alone. do they know what it feels like not being able to control your temper because of how much pain you have Been through and bottled up in your life .having dreams with your friend to make it to year 11 together go college together and boom in a blink of an eye taken by an insensitive principle was these manage moved may work for some people but not me I need a mentor someone who can guide me

  13. Hi, I appreciate this is an old post but could really do with some help regarding a failed managed moved and the handling of the procedures and situation we now find ourselves in. Can you please provide me with a contact number to discuss or an email contact?
    Many thanks

  14. Wow, all these experiences sound so similar to my son’s, except that he hasn’t been excluded / offered a move, although he’s frequently in internal exclusions. Could I ask the school for a managed move? He has said he wants to move but I’d hate for him to go out of he frying pan, into the fire (and further from home). Certain staff have done a lot to try and help him but others seem to harbour such bad feelings, as I recently discovered on a referral form). If the support staff and senco see him in such a bad light, then I don’t see how things will be able to get better for him there.

  15. Hi, my child’s school have decided on a manage move for my child without discussing it with me or my child first. There have been No prior warnings or interventions in place for my child and decided on this manage move. He has been accused of things he is not accepting and I feel like the school just want him out.
    As they have made the decision without mine or my sons consent. My sons mental health is extremely fragile as he feels had he been prewarned at any stage that he was on his last chance or on the brink of expulsion he would have put his head down.
    Yet no warning , they have blown things way out of proportion nit picking on petty things to make a case against him. They have offered him zero alternatives, support interventions and have jumped straight to extreme measures of a managed move!
    We feel he hasn’t been treated fairly or just therefore do not accept the managed move and their reasons behind it.please can you advise ASAP as any advice would be appreciated where I can get the best support or advocacy in this matter.
    Thank you

  16. Hi , please can I get advice as my child school want to manage move him, without my consent.He is 14 and he doesn’t accept why they want to move him. The circumstances in regards to the move are extremely unfair and unjust! No prior warnings, or other punishments put in place before this extreme decision was made!
    PLEASE HELP! My child’s emotional and mental state is extremely fragile at the moment they have totally broken him and failed him.

  17. my head of year is having a meeting with my dad about manage moving me to a different school, will i be in this meeting, my dad wants me to get managed move, but i will hate it, as i’ve always struggled to fit it, is there anything else they can do before they put me on a manage move like a behaviour plan or something? also if i don’t want to get managed moved will they still move me?

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