Leader magazineASCL - Association of School and College Leaders

No freedom to see SEF

ASCL has received legal advice from our solicitors which advises that schools can refuse requests for the release of their SEF under the Freedom of Information Act.

Section 36 of the Freedom of Information Act exempts information from disclosure which, in the reasonable opinion of a qualified person, would be likely to:

  • inhibit the free and frank provision of advice or the free and frank exchange of views for the purposes of deliberation

  • would otherwise prejudice, or would be likely to prejudice, the effective conduct of public affairs

This exemption requires a public interest test. In each and every instance where a request is made, the chair of governors (who under the act is the 'qualified person') needs to consider whether the public interest in maintaining the exemption outweighs the public interest in disclosing the information.

The chair will have to set out, to the person requesting the SEF, the reasons why the public interest test falls in favour of withholding the information.

ASCL is drafting a letter for chairs of governors to use in these circumstances which will be made available via the e-newsletter. Meanwhile, any issues or concerns should be addressed to Keith Dennis at keith.dennis@ascl.org.uk

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