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Chapter 25.       Providing Information - Download this file

25 PROVIDING INFORMATION

 

CHAPTER SUMMARY

 

            This chapter details the roles and responsibilities of governing bodies, headteachers, Local Authorities (LAs) and other educational establishments in providing information to each other, parents and the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families. The main types of information covered include careers guidance, arrangements for pupils with special educational needs (SEN), Children and Young People’s Plans (CYPP), the school prospectus, the School Profile, the Governors’ Annual Report to Parents, home­school agreements, pupils’ educational records and pupil reports. Guidance is also provided for governors on the Freedom of Information Act and sets out their responsibilities under the Act.

 

GENERAL

 

1.         School governors will receive information from the Local Authority (LA), the headteacher and the Department for Children, Schools and Families (DCSF). Some of this will be background information that they receive when they first join the governing body. Other material will be sent to the whole governing body from time to time to help it carry out its duties.

 

2.         The governing body must provide certain information: some to parents or pupils, some to the LA, some to the headteacher and some to the DCSF and other government bodies such as Ofsted.

 

3.         Schools should notify themselves as data controllers under the Data Protection Act 1998 (DPA), unless certain exemptions apply. Advice on this subject can be obtained from the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO).

 

INFORMATION SUPPLIED BY THE LA

 

4.         When a governor is appointed, he or she should receive background information from the LA. This should include a copy of the instrument of government for the school, which sets out the composition of the governing body.

 

5.         The LA supplies the governing body and the headteacher with financial information concerning the school.

 

INFORMATION FROM THE GOVERNING BODY TO THE LA

 

6.         The governing body must give the LA any relevant information or reports in connection with the discharge of the governing body’s functions that the LA may require.

 

7.         The governing body must make available to the LA details of the arrangements made for pupils with special educational needs (SEN). Governing bodies of community and foundation special schools must provide certain information to parents of pupils or prospective pupils, to LAs and to Primary Care Trusts, including:

 

·                     basic information about the school’s SEN provision;

·                     information about the school’s policies for the assessment and provision for all pupils with SEN;

·                     information about the school’s staffing policies and partnership with bodies beyond the school.

 

8.         Full details about the information to be published are contained in the Education (Special Educational Needs) (Information) (England) Regulations 1999. These Regulations are contained in the Code of Practice on Identifying and Assessing Special Educational Needs.

 

 

 

9.                  The governing body must publish the information in a single document and make copies available free of charge to parents, the LA and the Primary Care Trust. The LA may publish the information referred to above if the governing body agrees. Where there is such an agreement, the governing body must supply the LA with the information, which must be published without alteration.

 

Children and Young Peoples Plan

 

10.              The Children and Young People’s Plan (CYPP) is an important element in the Every Child Matters (ECM) agenda. The CYPP contributes towards better local integration of children’s services and the effective functioning of children’s trust partnership arrangements, and helps define local priorities for LAs and partners, including schools, within the framework of Local Area Agreements.

 

11.              LAs and schools have a shared responsibility for the improvement of services for children and young people. That is why the Children and Young People’s Plan (England) (Amendment) Regulations 2007 place a duty on LAs to consult schools, school forums and school admission forums during the preparation of the CYPP. These changes ensure good practice and enable schools and forums to have sufficient opportunity to comment on the plan, understand local priorities and targets for improving outcomes for children and young people, and understand how they are expected to contribute to delivery of those priorities and targets.

 

12.              As schools are the only universal service all children have contact with most days of the week, it is crucial that they recognise their role in the preparation and delivery of the CYPP. To achieve this aim Section 21 of the Education Act 2002 (as inserted by Section 38(1) of the Education and Inspections Act 2006) places a duty on maintained schools to have regard to the CYPP when undertaking duties to promote well-being, community cohesion and high standards of educational achievement.

 

13.              The duty to have regard to the CYPP means that schools will need to take account of the plan when, for example, undertaking their own strategic planning. The CYPP will be part of the core data for self evaluation and School Improvement Partners (SIPs). Linking with the CYPP will help schools identify and demonstrate how they can deliver the five ECM outcomes: being healthy; staying safe; enjoying and achieving; making a positive contribution; and achieving well-being.

 

14.              The duty will be applied to Academies through their funding agreement with the Secretary of State. It also applies to the provision of community (extended) services. Trust schools count as maintained schools for the purpose of this duty.

 

Setting targets

 

15.       Under the Education Act 2005, LAs set statutory targets once all primary and secondary schools have reported on their targets. As part of the target-setting exercise, LAs will provide support and advice to governors and headteachers to help their schools set realistic, child­based targets making effective use of the data available to them. Details of the statutory targets the LA has set for pupils’ achievement should be included in the CYPP.

 

16.              Schools should set targets which they believe in and can genuinely work towards – this is the principle behind school-initiated target-setting. Schools should discuss their “bottom-up” targets with their SIP or LA adviser whose role is to challenge (using conversion and comparative data) where expectations for individual pupils or groups of pupils are too low compared with other schools, and ensure that support is provided to help the school achieve improved outcomes. Targets do not have to match a particular formula for improvement but schools should be able to demonstrate that their targets seek to maximise all children’s progress so that all children achieving national expectations at the end of one key stage will move on to achieve at least national expectations by the end of the next key stage. Pupils with severe learning difficulties should have targets which seek the best possible ambition for them.

 

17.              Where a school proposes to set targets below the LA’s expectations for its pupils, SIPs/link advisers will discuss the support that might be available (from the LA, National Strategies or others) to help the school to raise attainment further. If the school continues to believe it cannot raise standards further, the Head of School Improvement and Director of Children's Services may need to review the targets set and determine how best to support the school. This could include providing support from other agencies via the LA’s ECM strategy.

 

Further information on, including case studies, is available on the Department’s target-setting website.

 

INFORMATION FROM THE GOVERNING BODY TO PARENTS

 

School prospectus

 

18.       Each year the governing body must publish a school prospectus for parents and prospective parents. Since 1 September 2005 the compulsory content of the prospectus has been simplified and is now only the information about the school’s SEN and disability arrangements that was previously required in the Governors’ Annual Report to Parents. This ensures parents continue to have easy access to this information. Other content is for the school to decide upon. In doing so, it will want to consider what information will best serve parents in their decision-making.

 

19.       The obligatory content of the prospectus is detailed below. Content in addition to this is for each school to decide. Obligatory content includes:

 

·                     arrangements for the admission of pupils with disabilities;

·                     details of steps to prevent disabled pupils being treated less favourably than other pupils;

·                     details of existing facilities to assist access to the school by pupils with disabilities;

·                     the accessibility plan (required under the Disability Discrimination Act 1995) covering future policies for increasing access to the school by pupils with disabilities;

·                     information about the implementation of the governing body’s policy on pupils with SEN and any changes to the policy during the last year.

 

20.       The prospectus must be published during the school year immediately preceding the admissions school year, i.e. prospectuses published in 2006–7 will be for admissions in 2007–8. The prospectus must be published at least six weeks before the final date by which parents are asked to apply for admission to the school, or to express a preference for a place.

 

School Profile

 

21.       Governing bodies of maintained schools, except maintained nursery schools, are required to complete a School Profile every year. This is an online system with all the data for each school provided by the DCSF.

 

22.       The Profile and the school prospectus outline the minimum interaction that schools should have with parents. Schools are free to communicate and interact with parents above and beyond this requirement in any way they wish.

 

23.       The School Profile has three elements:

 

·                     performance data supplied by the DCSF;

·                     a summary of the latest Ofsted report;

·                     narrative sections written by the school.

 

24.       The narrative sections for the school to complete include the following headings:

 

·                     What have been our successes this year?

·                     What are we trying to improve?

·                     How have our results changed over time?

·                     How are we making sure that every child gets teaching to meet their individual needs?

·                     How do we make sure our pupils are healthy, safe and well supported?

·                     What have we done in response to Ofsted?

·                     How are we working with parents and the community?

 

The narrative sections are all the same size, allowing schools to enter approximately 200 words in each section.

 

25.       Validated performance data will be entered onto School Profile templates as soon as this is available, usually at the start of the spring term. However, schools are now also able to enter their own provisional data should they wish to. This will be replaced with validated performance data as soon as it is available.

 

26.       Schools must prepare and publish their Profile once in every school year. However, a School Profile can be amended and updated throughout the year, should a school wish to do so.

 

27.       More information and guidance can be found at on the School Profile webpage on TeacherNet.

 

Governors Annual Report to Parents maintained nursery schools only

 

28.       Since 1 September 2005 only maintained nursery schools have been required to produce a Governors’ Annual Report to Parents. All other maintained schools are required to produce a School Profile (see paragraphs 21–27). No schools (including maintained nurseries) are required to hold an annual parents’ meeting but they may do so if they wish.

 

29.       The Governors’ Annual Report to Parents should explain how the governing body has put into practice its plans for the school since the last report. The report, which must be given to parents, must include:

 

·                     the names and status (parent, staff, foundation governor or otherwise) of the members of the governing body, the date when their term of office ends (except for ex officio governors), and the name and address of the chair and clerk (the school address may be used);

·                     a financial statement giving a summary of the school budget, how the governing body spent the funds given in the past year, details of any gifts made to the school, and governors’ travelling, accommodation and meal expenses in the period covered by the report;

·                     information about school security;

·                     details regarding arrangements for admitting disabled pupils to the school;

·                     details of the steps the school has taken to prevent disabled pupils being treated less favourably than other pupils;

·                     information about the facilities provided to help with access to the school for disabled pupils;

·                     the accessibility plan, covering future policies for increasing access by those with disabilities to the school;

·                     information about the implementation of the governing body’s policy on pupils with SEN and any changes to the policy during the last year;

·                     details of how teachers’ professional development has improved the quality of teaching and learning;

·                     the number of pupils on roll;

·                     the schools to which pupils transfer on leaving the nursery.

 

            The governing body may want to include other information as well, such as details of the foundation stage curriculum, standards of behaviour and how to make complaints.

 

 

 

The home­school agreement

 

30.              The governing body is required to have a written home­school agreement in place, drawn up in consultation with parents. The agreement should explain the school’s aims and values and the respective responsibilities of the school and of the parents, and what the school expects of its pupils. The governing body must invite parents to sign a declaration in support of the agreement. It can also invite pupils to sign where they consider that the pupils are sufficiently mature to do so. Guidance on home­school agreements can be found in the DfEE booklet Home­School Agreements Guidance for Schools and at the home–school agreements area on the DCSF website.

 

Pupils educational records

 

31.       The Education (Pupil Information) (England) Regulations 2005, require maintained schools (other than nursery schools) and any special school not so maintained to keep a curricular record for each pupil and disclose on request a pupil’s educational record to their parent. Under these Regulations, maintained schools must transfer a pupil’s educational record to their new school when they change schools.

 

32.       Schools should note some changes from superseded Regulations. The duties outlined above regarding pupils’ educational records have passed from headteachers to governing bodies, in line with the norm of powers and duties sitting with governing bodies as those legally responsible for the management of schools. However, a governing body may delegate these duties to the headteacher, having regard to their largely strategic role and the headteacher’s responsibility for day-to-day organisation, management and control of the school.

 

33.       Any Personal Educational Plan (PEP) for a pupil is now part of their educational record. The PEP is the document initiated by children’s social services when a child is taken into care and maintained by the child’s school, which provides a record of educational needs, objectives and progress and achievements. From 3 October 2005, when a pupil transfers to a school in Wales, Scotland or Northern Ireland, his or her educational record, including the common transfer file (see the link in paragraph 49 below for details) must be transferred to that school in line with the arrangements for transfer within England.

 

Keeping a curricular record for every pupil

 

34.       The governing body is responsible for ensuring that a curricular record is kept for every pupil registered at the school and that it is updated at least once every school year. The curricular record means a formal record of a pupil’s academic achievements, his or her other skills, and abilities and progress in school.

 

Parents requests to see or have copies of their childs educational record

 

35.       The governing body is responsible for making available a pupil’s educational record to his or her parent, free of charge, within 15 school days of receipt of the parent’s written request. If a parent makes a written request for a copy of the record, this must be provided to them, also within 15 school days of that request being received. The governing body can charge a fee for the copy, but if it does this, it must not be more than the cost of supply. The educational record should include the curricular record, but also other information about the pupil that may be kept by the school, such as details of behaviour and family background (definition given below).

 

            The educational record

 

36.       The pupil’s educational record is comprised of any record of information, other than information which is processed by a teacher solely for the teacher’s own use, which:

 

·                     is processed* by, or on behalf of, a governing body of, or a teacher at, any school maintained by an LA and any special school not so maintained;

 

 

·                     relates to any person who is or has been a pupil at any such school; and originates from, was supplied by, or is on behalf of:

–    any employee of the LA who maintains the school (or former school) attended by the pupil to whom the record relates;

–    any teacher or other employee at the school or at the pupil’s former school (including any educational psychologist engaged by the governing body under a contract for services) where the school is a voluntary aided, foundation or foundation special school or a special school not maintained by an LA;

–    the pupil to whom the record relates;

–    a parent of that pupil.

 

In addition, the educational record includes:

 

·                     any statement of SEN held in respect of the pupil;

·                     any PEP held in respect of the pupil.

 

            *N.B. The “basic interpretative provisions” provided in the Data Protection Act 1998, Section 1 are quoted below and provide the definition of “processing” to be applied.

Processing, in relation to information or data, means obtaining, recording or holding the information or data or carrying out any operation or set of operations on the information or data including:

 

·                     organisation, adaptation or alteration of the information or data;

·                     retrieval, consultation or use of the information or data;

·                     disclosure of the information or data by transmission, dissemination or otherwise making available;

·                     alignment, combination, blocking, erasure or destruction of the information or data.

 

Material in the pupils educational record exempt from disclosure to parents

 

37.       When schools comply with a parent or carer’s request to see or have a copy of a pupil’s educational record under the Education (Pupil Information) (England) Regulations 2005, there is some information that must not be disclosed. This is any information that the child could not lawfully be given under the DPA 1998 or to which he or she would have no right of access under that Act or by virtue of any order made under Section 30(2) or Section 38(1) of the Act. The following information must not be disclosed:

 

·                     information, the disclosure of which would be likely to cause serious harm to the physical or mental health or condition of the child or someone else;

·                     information as to whether the child is or has been subject to or may be at risk of child abuse, where the disclosure of that information would not be in the best interests of the child;

·                     references supplied to potential employers of the child, any national body concerned with student admissions, another school, an institution of further or higher education, or any other place of education and training;

·                     information supplied by the school in a report to any juvenile court, where the rules of that court provide that the information or part of it may be withheld from the child;

·                     information recorded by the pupil during an examination;

·                     information concerning the child that also relates to another person who can be identified from that information, or which identifies another person as the source of that information, unless the person has consented to the disclosure, or it is reasonable in all the circumstances to disclose the information without his or her consent, or the person is an employee of the LA or of the school. (This exemption does not apply where it is possible to edit the information requested so as to omit the name or any other identifying particulars of that other person.)

 

 

 

 

Access to information about pupils with statements of SEN

 

38.       Access to information about pupils with statements of SEN is governed by the Education (Special Educational Needs) (England) (Consolidation) Regulations 2001 and the Code of Practice on Identifying and Assessing Special Educational Needs. Where a child has a statement of SEN, that statement forms part of the child’s educational record. The parent must be sent a copy of the statement.

 

Requests by pupils to see their educational record under the Data Protection Act (DPA) 1998

 

39.       Both manual and computerised personal information held by schools are subject to the DPA 1998. Under the Act, pupils who submit written requests to see or have copies of their records must be allowed to do so within 40 days, unless it is obvious they do not understand what they are asking for. When schools receive requests from pupils for disclosure of educational records under the DPA 1998, they must not disclose any information which is prohibited from disclosure under that Act.

 

40.       If a child seeks access to his or her statement of SEN, the school should normally comply with the request unless there are exceptional circumstances which suggest that access should not be granted (for example, if the child is clearly unable to understand the statement or disclosure of the statement could cause serious harm to the child).

 

41.       Schools should always bear in mind that a statement may contain sensitive personal information and if in any doubt as to whether the statement, or any other information that forms part of the pupil’s educational record, should be disclosed in any circumstances they should contact either the DCSF or the Information Commissioner (IC).

 

42.       Information about specific restrictions on disclosure of statements is contained in the Code of Practice on the Identification and Assessment of Special Educational Needs and in Regulation 24 of The Education (Special Educational Needs) (England) (Consolidation) Regulations 2001. Queries relating to charging for copies made for pupils should also be addressed to the IC. More information can be found on the ICO website.

 

Dealing with complaints

 

43.       Ways of handling certain types of complaints (for example, admissions and curriculum, exclusions) are laid down by law (see chapters 3, 6, 12 and 13 of this Guide). Since 1 September 2003, governing bodies of all maintained schools and maintained nursery schools in England have been required, under Section 29 of the Education Act 2002, to have in place a procedure to deal with complaints relating to the school and to any community facilities or services that the school provides. The law also requires the procedure to be publicised (see chapter 3 of this Guide).

 

            INFORMATION FROM THE GOVERNING BODY TO OTHER SCHOOLS AND EDUCATIONAL ESTABLISHMENTS

 

Transferring the curricular record when a pupil is under consideration for admission to another educational establishment

 

44.       When a pupil is being considered for a place at another school or institution of further or higher education, if the governing body is asked by the “responsible person” at that institution for the pupil’s curricular record, it must be provided, free of charge, within 15

            school days of the request being received. The responsible person is the headteacher of an independent school, the governing body of any other school or the person responsible for the conduct of any institution of further or higher education. The record sent must not include results of any assessments of the pupil’s achievements.

 

 

 

 

Transferring a pupils educational record when he or she moves to a new school

 

45.       When a pupil ceases to be registered at one school and becomes registered at another (either maintained or independent) in England, the governing body of the old school is responsible for transferring their educational record to the new school. This must be done no later than 15 school days after the day when the pupil ceases to be registered at the old school.

 

Text Box: Amendment 1
   May 2006
46.       Since 3 October 2005, schools have also been required to transfer pupil records to schools to which they transfer (either maintained or independent) in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. The record must be sent to the governing body of the new school, or if the school is an independent one, the headteacher. Any statement of SEN or PEP for a child forms part of their educational record and as such must be forwarded to the child’s new school.

 

When a school doesnt know the pupils new school

 

47.       The duty to transfer a pupil’s record doesn’t apply where the old school doesn’t know the new school and it is not reasonably practicable for them to find it out. What is reasonably practicable will depend on circumstances, but schools might be expected to ‘phone and write to the pupil’s parents. Where both these approaches are unsuccessful, and it would involve disproportionate effort to discover the pupil’s new school by other means, the school will be justified in deciding it is not reasonably practicable to fulfil the requirement.

 

When a school receives a request for a pupils educational record from a school to which he or she has transferred

 

48.       If the pupil’s old school receives a request for their educational record (which they still hold) from the headteacher of an independent school or the governing body of a maintained school, the governing body must ensure it is provided within 15 school days of the request being received.

 

The common transfer file

 

49.       When pupils transfer schools it is important their new school has, and acts on, information about previous performance. The requirement to send the common transfer file from the old school to the new school ensures specific information about the pupil is transferred with them. For full details on the common transfer file, please see Schedule 2 in the Education (Pupil Information) (England) Regulations 2005.

 

50.       The file data must be transferred from any maintained school in England to any other maintained or independent school in England to which a pupil transfers within 15 school days of the pupil ceasing to be registered at the old school. All such schools are expected to have the capability to transfer and receive the defined items of pupil data electronically.

 

51.       Since 3 October 2005, where a pupil ceases to be registered at a maintained school in England and moves to a school, maintained or independent, in Wales, Scotland or Northern Ireland, their common transfer file must be transferred to that new school in line with the arrangements for transfer within England. The Education (Pupil Information) (England) Regulations 2005, which came into force on 8 July 2005, describe the information that must be transferred and the method by which transfer must take place.

 

52.       Since 3 October 2005, wherever both the school transferring the common transfer file and the school receiving it have the necessary facilities, then transfer must take place either:

 

·                     through the secure file transfer service known as “School to School” or “s2s” on the TeacherNet website;

or

·                     through an intranet provided for the purpose by or on behalf of an LA.

 

53.       Although the basic model is that the old school will send the common transfer file to the new school by one of these methods, the law allows the file to be provided by LAs where there are agreed local arrangements to that effect.

 

54.       Previously schools have also been able to transfer the file by floppy disc or email attachment, but they will appreciate the need to transfer this data by the most secure means available. Schools experiencing difficulties in transferring the data using the DCSF secure file transfer service can find advice on TeacherNet’s School to School webpage.

 

55.       Where schools do not have the capability for electronic transfer between themselves, either by means of the secure file transfer service on the TeacherNet website or through an intranet provided for the purpose by or on behalf of an LA, they may agree between themselves how to transfer the information. An example of this might be where, since 3 October 2005, a maintained school in England is transferring the common transfer file to a school in Scotland or Northern Ireland.

 

Timing of transfer

 

56.       The law requires that common transfer file data is sent to the receiving school no later than 15 school days after the day on which the pupil ceases to be registered at the old school. But schools do not have to transfer all the data at the same time. They might, for example, arrange to transfer basic data about pupils transferring from primary to secondary school, together with their end of Key Stage 1 assessment information, in February, and follow that up later with a second transfer of data, covering Key Stage 2 assessments and tests.

 

57.       As long as the unique pupil number is included, the new data will be added to the existing record and there will be no danger of a duplicate record being created for the pupil. Alternatively, the data might be transferred by an LA in England when, through the co­ordinated admissions process, it is able to notify the maintained secondary schools in its area of the pupils who have been offered and accepted a place in the secondary school.

 

What to do if the old school does not know the identity of the new school

 

58.       Sometimes schools will not know the identity of the new school to which a pupil has transferred. Although it is not a requirement that they should do so, in these circumstances schools are encouraged to send the common transfer file to the special area of the TeacherNet secure file transfer website which forms a database of unclaimed pupil records. Schools that do not receive common transfer files for new pupils can ask named contacts in the LA to search this database to see if the files are there.

 

Requesting the common transfer file from a pupils former school

 

59.       If a new school is aware of the identity of a pupil’s former school, but hasn’t been sent the common transfer file or educational record, these can be requested directly from the former school. The former school is required to send the information held to the new school within 15 school days of receiving the request.

 

INFORMATION FROM THE HEADTEACHER TO PARENTS AND OTHERS

 

Pupil reports

 

60.       It is a requirement for headteachers of maintained schools to provide an annual written report on pupils’ educational achievements for every registered pupil at their school. This must be provided to the pupil’s parent every school year, or if the pupil is 18 or over, to the pupil. Where a pupil is 18 or over, a headteacher can also provide the report to the pupil’s parent, as well as to the pupil, where the headteacher considers there are special circumstances which make it appropriate.

 

61.       Minimum content, prescribed by the Regulations, can be provided in one or more such reports. Schools can, of course, provide more than this minimum information required and headteachers can have a report translated, if appropriate. The information required in the annual pupil report must be provided by the end of the summer term of the school year to which the report relates. The only exception to this is in respect of some specific information that may be received after that and which is outlined below.

 

62.       Where a pupil is no longer of compulsory school age and has left the school, or is proposing to do so, headteachers are required to provide the pupil with a school leaver’s report (in place of the annual pupil report). The school leaver’s report must be provided by no later than 30 September following the pupil’s last year at the school. Headteachers must make arrangements to enable the recipient of the report to discuss it with the pupil’s teacher if he or she wishes. The headteacher’s report to school leavers must contain brief particulars of the pupil’s progress and achievements in subjects and activities forming part of the school curriculum, other than in relation to any public examination or vocational qualification.

 

63.       Since 8 July 2005 schools have no longer been required to report Key Stage 1 task and test results in pupil reports, but they must report teacher assessments. Also from 8 July 2005, where results of public examinations, national curriculum tests or reviews undertaken by the external marking agency of any national curriculum tests taken are not received by headteachers until after the end of the summer term, and cannot, therefore, be provided to parents by the end of that term, then headteachers must provide them to parents within 15 school days of receiving them.

 

Minimum required contents of pupil reports for pupils in Reception Year to Year 13

 

64.       These minimum contents include:

 

·                     brief particulars of achievements in all subjects and other activities forming part of the school curriculum;

·                     comments on general progress;

·                     the attendance record (information about attendance showing the total number of possible attendances and total number of unauthorised absences expressed as a percentage of the possible attendances) during the period to which the report relates, unless the child is in Reception Year, or Years 12 or 13 and is no longer of compulsory school age;

·                     the results of any national curriculum tests taken in the year where the pupil is in Key Stages 2–3;

·                     national curriculum teacher assessment levels and national curriculum test results, as appropriate, with explanatory material where the pupil is in the final year of Key Stages1–3;

·                     comparative information about the attainments of pupils in that year in the school and nationally where the pupil is in the final year of Key Stages 1–3;

·                     any public examination results by subject and grade, including any vocational qualification or credits towards any such qualification gained;

·                     arrangements for discussing the report with the pupil’s teacher if the recipient so wishes.

 

            N.B. The annual Assessment and reporting arrangements booklets from QCA provide detailed information about reporting from foundation stage to the end of Key Stage 3.

 

65.       Some information is exempt from disclosure in pupil reports. This includes:

 

·                     information concerning the pupil, but which also relates to another person who can be identified from that information;

·                     information which identifies another person as the source of that information;

unless, in either case:

·                     that other person has consented to the disclosure;

            or

·                     it is reasonable in all the circumstances to disclose the information without his or her consent;

            or

·                     that person is an employee of the LA or of the school.

 

 

66.       So, for example, this would include information that would disclose the levels in any attainment target or subject of any other child. (This exemption does not apply where it is possible to edit the information requested so as to omit the name or any other identifying particulars of that other person.) Other exempt material is that outlined above in the information about pupils’ educational records (see paragraphs 39-42).

 

Content of reports where a pupil has a statement of SEN

 

67.       Reports for the annual review of a pupil’s statement of SEN may, if schools wish, serve as the Governors’ Annual Report to Parents. If so, headteachers should ensure the report provides the minimum information required in respect of any other pupil in the same school year. Additionally, schools should always provide contextual information, in particular by supplementing the minimum information with a more detailed account of a pupil’s progress in relation to the curriculum that they are following.

 

INFORMATION FROM THE GOVERNING BODY TO THE SECRETARY OF STATE FOR CHILDREN, SCHOOLS AND FAMILIES

 

68.       The governing body must give the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families details of the results of national curriculum assessments taken by pupils, for the preparation of the national analyses that the DCSF publishes.

 

69.       Each year the governing bodies of all maintained schools have to provide information to be used in the secondary school and the primary achievement and attainment tables (formerly performance tables). The most recent sets of tables are available at www.dcsf.gov.uk/performancetables.

 

INFORMATION FROM THE HEADTEACHER TO THE GOVERNING BODY

 

70.       The headteacher must give the governing body any information requested by it for the purpose of the exercise of any of its functions.

 

TRANSLATING DOCUMENTS

 

71.       Governing bodies should consider whether any documents that have to be published or made available for inspection at the school should be translated into other languages. Examples might include the prospectus or details of the LA’s arrangements for considering complaints about the curriculum.

 

FREEDOM OF INFORMATION ACT (FOIA) 2000

 

72.       Under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (FOIA), it is now a legal right for any person to ask a school for access to information that it holds. The aim of the FOIA is to promote a culture of openness and accountability amongst public sector bodies, and therefore improve public understanding of how public authorities (which includes the governing bodies of maintained schools) carry out their duties, why they make the decisions they do and how they spend public money.

 

73.              The FOIA is overseen by the Information Commissioner (IC), whose Freedom of Information (FOI) duties are to:

 

·                     promote good practice;

·                     give advice and guidance;

·                     enforce compliance and investigate complaints;

·                     report to Parliament on compliance;

·                     approve publication schemes;

·                     and publicise the Act.

 

Both the IC and the Ministry of Justice (MoJ), formerly the Department of Constitutional Affairs (DCA), have produced guidance on FOIA, including two Codes of Practice providing guidance to public authorities generally on the implementation of the Act and on records management.

 

74.       The Lord Chancellor’s Code of Practice on the Discharge of Functions of Public Authorities under Part 1 of the FOI Act (Section 45) provides guidance to public authorities on good practice when handling requests for information. For more information visit the dedicated area on the former DCA website.

 

75.       The IC also has responsibility for the DPA 1998 and the Environmental Information Regulations 2004 (EIRs). The DPA 1998 enables individuals to access information about themselves. The EIRs enable people to access environmental information.

 

76.       In principle, the FOIA enables people to access all information, including the reasoning behind decisions and policies, which do not fall under the DPA or EIRs. Although FOI presumes openness, it recognises the need to protect sensitive information in certain circumstances and provides for exemptions.

 

77.       Any request for information made in writing to a school since 1 January 2005 and which is considered non-routine is a request under the FOIA, ElRs, the DPA, or a combination of any of them.

 

Right to request information

 

78.       Since 1 January 2005 there has been a legal right for any person to make a request to a school for access to information held by that school. Schools are under a duty to provide advice and assistance to anyone requesting information and must respond to the enquiry promptly, and in any event, within 20 working days of receipt (not including school holidays). See the Freedom of Information (Time for Compliance with Request) Regulations 2004 which excludes days which are not school days from the 20 working day period.

 

79.       Enquirers do not have to say why they want the information and the request does not have to mention the FOIA. The request must be in writing, which includes fax or email. All requests for information that are non-routine and not covered by the DPA 1998 (i.e. from individuals to see their own personal information) or EIRs are covered by the FOIA.

 

80.       The enquirer is entitled to be told whether the school holds the information (this is known as the duty to confirm or deny), and if so, to have access to it. Access can include providing extracts of a document or a summary of the information sought, or access to the original document. However, the Act recognises the need to preserve confidentiality of sensitive information in some circumstances and sets out a number of exemptions.

 

81.       From 1 January 2005, there were four reasons for not complying with a valid request for information under FOI. These include situations where:

 

·                     the information is not held;

·                     the £450 cost threshold is reached;

·                     the request is considered vexatious or repeated;

·                     one or more of the exemptions apply (see below).

 

82.       The FOIA provides a series of exemptions. Some of the exemptions are absolute and some are qualified, in that they can be overridden by the public interest test. More information on these can be found in the detailed guidance issued by the DCSF on the TeacherNet website under Freedom of Information for schools.

 

83.       Many of the exemptions are intended to protect sensitive or confidential information. However, some of the exemptions are there simply to avoid the legal position where two pieces of law cover the same information requested, or where the information is already available by some other means. The exemptions most likely to be used by schools include:

 

·                     information accessible by other means, for example, information available from a publication scheme, or information that other legislation requires a school to give;

·                     a request for personal information covered by the DPA (individuals may continue to make a “subject access request” under the DPA – these are where the enquirer asks to see what personal information the school holds about him or her);

·                     environmental information: EIRs enquiries are those that relate to: air; water; land; natural sites; built environment; flora and fauna; health; and any decisions and activities affecting any of these. These could therefore include enquiries about recycling, phone masts, school playing fields, car parking, etc. For more guidance on EIRs, go to the dedicated areas on the ICO website or on DEFRA’s website.

 

84.       Expressions of dissatisfaction should be handled through the school’s existing complaints procedure. After these are exhausted, the case can be raised with the ICO which has a duty to investigate complaints.

 

What action does the governing body need to take?

 

85.       School governing bodies are responsible for ensuring a school complies with the FOIA. The new legal presumption of openness since January 2005 makes it more important than ever that a school decides its policies and conducts its day­to­day operations on a basis that stands up to public scrutiny.

 

86.       It should be noted that wilfully concealing, damaging or destroying information in order to avoid answering an enquiry is an offence and so a governing body, or any person who is employed by, or is an officer of, or is subject to the direction of the governing body (as the public authority) may be at risk of criminal proceedings where such unlawful concealment, damage or destruction occurs. Therefore it is important that no action is taken to delete or amend records that are subject to a request for information.

 

87.       Since requests for information can be directed to the school through anyone who works there, the governing body should ask itself whether all members of staff are aware of the FOIA and how the school handles requests for information. Governing bodies may choose to charge a fee, which must be calculated according to the Freedom of Information and Data Protection (Appropriate Limits and Fees) Regulations 2004. Guidance on charging can be found in the FOI area of the TeacherNet website and on the former DCA website.

 

88.       The governing body should:

 

·                     agree the FOI publication scheme and access policy if it has not already done so. The policy will need to set out how the school proposes to deal with requests and state that all staff should be aware of the process;

·                     agree a charging policy for complying with requests. The DCSF recommends that schools respond to straightforward requests for free, and charge where the costs are significant;

·                     delegate to the headteacher the day­to­day responsibility for FOI policy and the provision of advice, guidance, publicity and interpretation of the school’s policy;

·                     consider designating an individual with responsibility for FOI to provide a single point of reference; co­ordinate FOIA and related policies and procedures; take a view on possibly sensitive areas; and consider what information and training staff may need. For a generic PowerPoint presentation visit the TeacherNet FOI website;

·                     consider arrangements for overseeing access to information and delegation to the appropriate governing body committee;

·                     ensure that a well­organised records management and information system exists in order to comply with requests within 20 days excluding school holidays;

·                     keep a record of refusals and reasons for refusals as well as appeals, allowing the governing body to review its access policy on an annual basis;

·                     consider publishing a disclosure log on the school’s website, setting out responses to requests that have been made to which the school can refer in responding to future requests for the same information.

 

89.       Publishing a disclosure log is considered good practice and, over time, can be useful in steering the school’s publication strategy by highlighting areas of interest that the school may wish to consider for future publication. However, it is recognised that for small schools with few requests under the FOIA, a disclosure log may be inappropriate.

 

90.       On receipt of a request for information the school should:

 

·                     decide whether the request falls under the DPA, EIRs or the FOIA;

·                     decide whether the school holds the information or whether it should be transferred to another body;

·                     provide the information if it has already been made public;

·                     inform the enquirer if the information is not held;

·                     consider whether a third party’s interests might be affected by disclosure, and if so consult them;

·                     consider whether any exemptions apply and whether they are absolute or qualified;

·                     carry out a public interest test to decide if applying the qualified exemption outweighs the public interest in disclosing the information;

·                     ensure that the personal information is removed as set out in the guidance for schools if a request is made for a document that contains exempt personal information;

·                     decide whether the estimated cost of complying with the request will exceed the appropriate limit;

·                     consider whether the request is vexatious or repeated.

 

Further help and other sources of information

 

91.       Full guidance for schools, a PowerPoint presentation, retention schedule and electronic copies of relevant leaflets are available on the GovernorNet and TeacherNet FOI webpages.

 

The MoJ leads on FOI. For further information visit www.dca.gov.uk/foi. The site includes the Code of Practice on the Discharge of Functions of Public Authorities and the Code of Practice on the Management of Records.

 

            The IC is the independent authority responsible for administering and enforcing the FOIA. For more information visit www.ico.gov.uk.

 

THE LAW

 

            N.B. As legislation is often amended and Regulations introduced, the references made in this Guide may be to legislation that has been superseded. For an up to date list of legislation applying to schools, please refer to the GovernorNet website www.governornet.co.uk

 

            Children and Young People’s Plan (England) Regulations 2007

 

            The Education (Provision of Information About Young Children) (England) Regulations 2007: SI 2007/712

 

Disability Discrimination Act 1995: Section 28D

 

Education Act 1996: Sections 404 (sex education), 408, 537, 537A (Information about Individual Pupils), 541(1), (4)

 

Education Act 2002 Section 30A, as inserted by the Education Act 2005 Section 104

 

School Standards and Framework Act 1998: Section 61 (behaviour and anti-bullying policy), Section 92 (publication of information about admissions), Sections 110 and 111 (home­­–-school agreements)

 

Data Protection Act 1998

 

Education Act 2002: Section 30

 

Education (School Curriculum and Related Information) Regulations: SI 1989/954 (as amended by SI 1989/1136, 1990/1109 and 1992/1089)

 

 

Education (Further Education Institutions Information) (England) Regulations: SI 1995/2065 (as amended by SI 1997/2173 and 1998/2220)

 

Education (School Information) (England) Regulations: SI 2002/2897 (as amended by SI 2005/2152)

 

Education (School Performance Information) (England) Regulations: SI 2001/3446 (as amended by SI 2002/2017, 2003/2135, 2004/1377 and 2004/2141)

 

Education (School Sessions and Charges and Remissions Policies) (Information) (England) Regulations SI: 1999/2255

 

Education (Pupil Information) (England) Regulations: SI 2005/1437

 

Data Protection (Subject Access Modification) (Education) Order: SI 2000/414

 

Education (Special Educational Needs) (Information) Regulations 1999: SI 1999/2506

 

Education (Special Educational Needs) (England) (Consolidation) Regulations: SI 2001/3455

 

GUIDANCE

 

DfEE booklet: Home­School Agreements Guidance for Schools, Ref PPY984

 

Information and downloads of QCA booklets on Assessment and Reporting at Key Stages 1, 2, and 3 are available on QCA's website at Assessment and Reporting Arrangements.