Schools in Croydon have been quietly removing pupils ahead of upcoming Ofsted inspections to improve their ratings, it has been claimed.

Some “challenging” teenagers only receive “part-time schooling” while others disappear from schools’ rolls in the lead-up to GCSE exams, an education review found.

The review, conducted by a working group of Croydon Council officers and retired head teachers, found a big rise in pupils being taken out of school last year and concluded some were “unofficially’”removed from classes.

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Some 1,617 pupils were temporarily excluded in 2014/15, up from 1,254 in 2013/14.

But the number of permanent exclusions has dropped from 80 in 2008/09 to 24 in 2014/15.

Monique Ribeiro, the co-founder of youth charity Lives not Knives who previously sat on the management committee for a federation of five pupil referral units, said it was “common practice” for schools to hide their “unsuccessful” students.

She said: “I personally don’t think it is the right thing to do with the student, but I think that schools are under a lot of pressure and they are just trying to do the right thing by the other 30 young people in the class.

“However, I do feel that they need to be more transparent around about it and those exclusions should be recorded because the school has failed in some way and that needs to be recorded.”

In June last year exams regulator Ofqual found that 25 per cent of teachers were aware of pupils being removed to boost exam results.

Oasis Academy in Shirley Park recorded the highest number of temporary exclusions in 2013/14, with 87 students suspended.

But a spokesman for Oasis Community Learning, the trust that runs the school, said: “No students are ever ‘unofficially’ excluded.

“We are pleased to confirm that fixed-term exclusions have fallen consistently and [in 2015/16] are now in line with the national average.”

Two other schools excluded more than 70 students in 2014/15 – St Joseph’s Academy in Upper Norwood, which suspended 76 pupils, and Virgo Fidelis Convent Senior School, which suspended 74 students.

A council spokesman said: “If we have cause to believe a pupil may have been excluded for the wrong reasons we will raise this with the school concerned and ensure they understand how to apply the rules correctly.”