Leader magazineASCL - Association of School and College Leaders

FOI information

Members are reminded that schools have the right to refuse requests for the self-evaluation form (SEF) made under the Freedom of Information (FOI) Act. ASCL sought and received assurances of this from School's Minister Jacqui Smith in March 2006.

Currently college self-assessment reports (SARs) do not receive the same protection and ASCL is campaigning to change this.

This is not a blanket exception for SEFs - each school must consider the factors that apply and the circumstances of the school. However section 36 of the act exempts information from disclosure where it would, in the opinion of a qualified person (here, the chair of governors), be likely to inhibit or prejudice the effective conduct of public affairs.

If a school decides to reject an FOI request for the SEF, the chair of governors - as the qualified person according to the act - will need to respond in writing citing section 36.

ASCL has put more detailed guidance on the website which includes a letter template that chairs of governors can adapt for their own use. Go to www.ascl.org.uk and click on news and current issues.

Ofsted also has confirmed that it will not release SEFs under the act.

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