2016 ACCESS TO HIGHER EDUCATION DIPLOMA: COMPUTING

The request was partially successful.

Dear Oldham College,

I would appreciate if you could provide some information relating to the "Access to HE Diploma: Computing" course that was delivered starting in 2016 and ending in 2017.

I will outline the specifics of the information I would like below:

1. The number of students who were enrolled on this course who attended for more than the first two weeks.

2. The number of students who were still enrolled on this course at the beginning of 2017.

3. The number of students who were still enrolled on this course when it ended/was complete.

4. The number of students who left/withdrew from this course.

5. The number of students enrolled on this course who managed to achieve the full Diploma.

6. The number of teaching hours where the originally appointed teacher was unavailable hence replaced by a supply teacher or a supervisor.

7. The number of teaching hours where the supply teacher/supervisor was not able to teach what was required due to a specialist knowledge being required (such as programming).

8. The number of formal complaints received in relation to the course mentioned above.

Yours faithfully,
A concerned student who was enrolled on this course.

Dear Oldham College,

29 days have almost elapsed since I made the FOI request in relation to the Computing Access Course. I understand that it was quite extensive but I would have appreciated some kind of response detailing whether or not I should expect a response and by when.

As you are a college (school) I understand you may have up to 60 days to respond. I’d appreciate if you could provide the requested information by the 24/11/17 at the latest.

If for some reason you cannot provide any of the information requested I would appreciate if you could give me the reason as to why.

Yours faithfully,

Mr Mazher

Dear Oldham College,

The response to the request I made is long overdue. Apparently, by law, under all circumstances, you should have responded by now. I would like to request an internal review to find out why the response has been so slow.

Yours faithfully,
Mr Mazher

O'Donnell, Pete, Oldham College

Mr Mazher

Please accept my apologies for not getting this to you sooner but it has proved difficult to confirm all the data and information with various people due to holidays.

We have tried to answer your questions to the best of our ability and availability of relevant records. The answers to your questions are listed in the same order as requested. Unfortunately, some of the numbers you have requested are smaller than the standard threshold of ten and so may therefore allow individuals to be identified. Where this is the case then the Data Protection Act prohibits the release of that information.

1. 13.
2. 11.
3. Data is withheld by means of an exemption provided by the Data Protection Act.
4. Data is withheld by means of an exemption provided by the Data Protection Act.
5. Data is withheld by means of an exemption provided by the Data Protection Act.
6. A tutor, off sick, was replaced by a full time member of staff who was fully qualified and could teach what the original tutor had been teaching. The remaining hours at 8.5 hours were virtually uninterrupted with one tutor, so the number of hours taught by a supply teacher was zero.
7. The total number of hours was 8 based on a 2-hour class over a 4-week period.
8. Data is withheld by means of an exemption provided by the Data Protection Act.

Kind Regards

Pete O'Donnell
Director - Information Systems and Data
Oldham College

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Peter O'Donnell

Dear Mr O’Donnell,
I appreciate you responding. I see that your were not able to provide certain information due to exemptions in the Data Protections Act to ensure individuals cannot be identified.

Therefore I would like to request the following as an alternative:

3. The percentage of students who were still enrolled on this course when it ended/was complete.

4. The percentage of students who left/withdrew from this course.

5. The percentage of students enrolled on this course who managed to achieve the full Diploma.

8. Why is the number of complaints have been received in regards to this course, data which is exempt? I fail to see how individuals could be identified with this number?

If you are still unable to provide this data I would like an explaination at the very least.

Yours sincerely,

Mr Mazher

Mr Mazher left an annotation ()

Request: The number of students who were enrolled on this course who attended for more than the first two weeks.
Response: 13.

Request: The number of students who were still enrolled on this course at the beginning of 2017.
Response: 11.

Request: The number of students who were still enrolled on this course when it ended/was complete.
Response: Data is withheld by means of an exemption provided by the Data Protection Act.

Request: The number of students who left/withdrew from this course.
Response: Data is withheld by means of an exemption provided by the Data Protection Act.

Request: The number of students enrolled on this course who managed to achieve the full Diploma.
Response: Data is withheld by means of an exemption provided by the Data Protection Act.

Request: The number of teaching hours where the originally appointed teacher was unavailable hence replaced by a supply teacher or a supervisor.
Response: A tutor, off sick, was replaced by a full time member of staff who was fully qualified and could teach what the original tutor had been teaching. The remaining hours at 8.5 hours were virtually uninterrupted with one tutor, so the number of hours taught by a supply teacher was zero.

Request: The number of teaching hours where the supply teacher/supervisor was not able to teach what was required due to a specialist knowledge being required (such as programming).
Response: The total number of hours was 8 based on a 2-hour class over a 4-week period.
NOTE FROM THE INITIAL FOI REQUESTER: According to another letter received by me “there has been a one hour slot that has remained uncovered” at some point (should really be past tense but I was a student attending at that time). They did put on “extra” tuition time but as you can see this information received by this request only seems to deal with hours that were “covered”.

Request: The number of formal complaints received in relation to the course mentioned above.
Response: Data is withheld by means of an exemption provided by the Data Protection Act.

O'Donnell, Pete, Oldham College

Mr Mazher

I'm afraid that the information you have asked for in the email below cannot be provided, again based on an exemption provided by the Data Protection Act. The explanation is that having already given you the total number of students who started the course it would be a very simple task to calculate the number of students in the questions below, given the percentage for each, as requested.

Also, I have been in discussion with the ICO regarding question 8 and it is their opinion that in this case the FoI request could be granted, so in answer to the original question the number of complaints received was one.

Kind Regards

Pete O'Donnell
Director - Information Systems and Data
Oldham College

Dear Mr O’ Donnell,

You have stated “that having already given you the total number of students who started the course it would be a very simple task to calculate the number of students in the questions below, given the percentage for each, as requested.”.

I would like to point out that only the following was disclosed:

Request: The number of students who were enrolled on this course who attended for more than the first two weeks.
Response: 13.

Request: The number of students who were still enrolled on this course at the beginning of 2017.
Response: 11.

The following was NOT disclosed:
Request: The number of students who were still enrolled on this course when it ended/was complete.
Response: Data is withheld by means of an exemption provided by the Data Protection Act.

I assume that this was as the number is “smaller than the standard threshold of ten and so may therefore allow individuals to be identified.”.

As this number was NOT disclosed, you should be able to provide the percentage of those, undisclosed number of students, who managed to achieve the full diploma.

Thank you for your cooperation so far.

Yours sincerely,
Mr Mazher

O'Donnell, Pete, Oldham College

Mr Mazher

For reference, percentages of achievements are calculated as those that achieved divided by those that started after the qualifying period, in this case that would equate to the 13. For further details and clarifications you could look at https://www.gov.uk/government/publicatio....

If there is anything else that I can help you with then please let me know.

Kind Regards

Pete

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Dear Mr O’ Donnell,
I said” you should be able to provide the percentage of those, undisclosed number of students, who managed to achieve the full diploma.”

You response was the following:
“For reference, percentages of achievements are calculated as those that achieved divided by those that started after the qualifying period, in this case that would equate to the 13. For further details and clarifications you could look at https://www.gov.uk/government/publicatio....

I am not sure whether you provided me 13 as a percentage or the number of student who started...

Please could you clarify.

If it was the number of student who started I would still like the the percentage of those, undisclosed number of remaining/final students, who managed to achieve the full diploma even if that isn’t how percentages of achievements are calculated..

Yours sincerely,

Mr Mazher

O'Donnell, Pete, Oldham College

Mr Mazher

The number 13 would have been the actual number of learners as I have not provided any percentage figures. May I also repeat myself in saying that, by providing the percentage figures you have requested the number of learners would be able to be calculated, as such my previous statement stands, which was "Unfortunately, some of the numbers you have requested are smaller than the standard threshold of ten and so may therefore allow individuals to be identified. Where this is the case then the Data Protection Act prohibits the release of that information."

Kind Regards

Pete

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Dear Mr O’ Donnell,

Thank you for clarifying.

I do not agree with you when you state “by providing the percentage figures you have requested the number of learners would be able to be calculated, as such my previous statement stands, which was "Unfortunately, some of the numbers you have requested are smaller than the standard threshold of ten and so may therefore allow individuals to be identified. ”

I would have liked the percentage of those, undisclosed number of remaining/final students, who managed to achieve the full diploma even if that isn’t how percentages of achievements are calculated.

This ALONE wouldn’t allow me to calculate the number of students from the final number as you did not provide the final/remaining number of students.

From my basic understanding of mathematics, a percentage of an unknown number cannot be used to find the value of that unknown number...

This percentage I ask for doesn’t seem as though it would fall under the exemption you say.

Thank you for complying with MOST of my requests.
I understand that you couldn’t comply with some of the request I made and I apologies for wasting your time. I should have thought about what you’d be able to provide and not provide. It’s just a shame you did not provide the last bit of information (the percentage of the final remaining students who achieved the full diploma...) I don’t see how you would be exempt from providing this information, on its own, as the number of final remaining students was never disclosed by you for any FOI request I have made so far...

Anyway I give up with trying to get this information as you seem pretty reluctant to give it.

Yours sincerely,

Mr Mazher

Mr Mazher left an annotation ()

The following was NOT disclosed:
Request: The number of students who were still enrolled on this course when it ended/was complete.
Response: Data is withheld by means of an exemption provided by the Data Protection Act.

This was as the number is “smaller than the standard threshold of ten and so may therefore allow individuals to be identified.”.

As this number was NOT disclosed, instead the PERCENTAGE of this number, who managed to achieve the full diploma should be provided if requested as it doesn’t seem that it would fall under the same exemption.

WHEN I ASKED FOR THE PERCENTAGE INSTEAD, THEY REFUSED TO GIVE IT UNDER SAME EXEMPTION. I BELIVE THEY HAVE REFUSED TO GIVE THIS INFORMATION STATING THIS EXEMPTION FALSELY. WHETHER THIS WAS DONE INTENTIONALLY OR UNINTENTIONALLY (DUE TO A MISUNDERSTANDING) I DO NOT KNOW.

Green, Heather, Oldham College

Dear Mr Mazher

Following your complaint regarding a Freedom of Information request, dealt
with by our designated officer Peter O’Donnell, I have reviewed your
original and subsequent requests and the internal processes followed by
the college to: clarify the request; gather the information; analyse our
ability to comply with the request and deliver the information and
findings to you. 

I can see that we did not meet the timescale required to reply to your
original request, due to staff holidays and can only apologise again on
behalf of the college. 

I have reviewed the information provided to you and the information
withheld and concur that, based on the government agency responsible for
producing ESFA statistics own guidance for publishing aggregated learner
data and personal information, that we have correctly provided what was
permissible and withheld what was not, based on an exemption of not having
to provide Personal Information which is covered by the Data Protection
Act and is only available to the individual concerned.

For reference the guidance on data suppression from published statistics
as stated by the Education and Skills Funding Agency is: “All numbers have
been rounded to the nearest 10 to eliminate the potential identification
of individual learners or individual learners’ success.”

Yours Sincerely

Heather Green

Vice Principal

Heather Green
Vice Principal - Strategy & Quality
________________________________________________________________________
Rochdale Road, Oldham OL9 6AA
[1]www.oldham.ac.uk
Direct: 0161 785 4163
Email:[2][email address]

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Mr Mazher left an annotation ()

Received an email on the 3 May 2018 explaining that my FOIA complaint to the ICO has resulted in an investigation by the ICO in the colleges response to my FOI requests.
ULTIMATELY:
I would have liked the percentage of those, UNDISCLOSED number of remaining/final students, who managed to achieve the full diploma.

What will happen as explained to me by the ICO:

The ICO will write to the college and ask it to revisit my request. The college may wish to reverse or amend its position. If it does, it will contact me again directly about this.

In any event, it must provide the ICO with its full and final arguments in support of its position. Once the ICO receives its arguments, I will consider its reply before either contacting me to discuss the matter further or preparing a decision notice.

I will try to update this page with the final out come.

Dear Green, Heather,
Just to prevent any further confusion I would like to explain exactly the data I am expecting.
I do NOT want the following (despite requesting it in my earlier requests):
- "The percentage of students who were still enrolled on this course when it ended/was complete."
- "The percentage of students who left/withdrew from this course."
I understand by providing this data it would consequently be disclosing the number of remaining/final students. I believe that that information was RIGHTLY withheld under a VALID exemption.
This is what I was referring to when I previously stated:
"I understand that you couldn’t comply with some of the request I made and I apologies for wasting your time. I should have thought about what you’d be able to provide and not provide.".

I now ONLY want the percentage of those, UNDISCLOSED number of remaining/final students, who managed to achieve the full diploma. I believe that THIS information was WRONGLY withheld WITHOUT a valid exemption.

This is what I was referring to when I previously stated:
"It’s just a shame you did not provide the last bit of information (the percentage of the final remaining students who achieved the full diploma...) I don’t see how you would be exempt from providing this information, on its own, as the number of final remaining students was never disclosed by you for any FOI request I have made so far..."

I expect you would have been contacted by the ICO by now. I think that by not clearly explaining what I wanted as clearly as I could have (I can only try and excuse my poor typing and English by saying it was due to my frustration as it seemed as I wasn't getting anywhere) it has dragged out longer than it should have. I think that we are both partly to blame in the lack of timeliness of this request.

Just to reiterate:
I now ONLY want the percentage of those, UNDISCLOSED number of remaining/final students, who managed to achieve the full diploma. I believe that THIS information was WRONGLY withheld WITHOUT a valid exemption.

Yours sincerely,

Mr Mazher

Green, Heather, Oldham College

Thank you for your email, I am on leave until Tuesday 8th May. I will respond to your email on my return, however, if your email requires a more immediate response, please contact Janet Thompson.
Regards
Heather

Dear Oldham College,
As Heather Green is on leave "until Tuesday 8th May" please could you forward the following link to my freedom of information request to the appropriate person.

Link:
https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/2...

P.S. I don't know if Heather made a mistake and actually meant another date as "Tuesday 8th May" was last month. Either way please forward the link or email to the appropriate person to dealt with this. I would want this dealt preferably by the end of the current academic year.

Thanks.
Yours faithfully,

Mr Mazher

O'Donnell, Pete, Oldham College

Mr Mazher

We have reconsidered your request for the single piece of information that you have asked for, so thank you for making the request much clearer for us and we can now confirm that the percentage rate you have asked for is 25%.

As per your previous email dated the 29th May, I trust that you now have the information that you requested and no longer expect any other data from us. If I am mistaken with that then please inform me at your earliest convenience.

Regards

Pete O'Donnell
Director - Information Systems and Data
Oldham College

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Dear Pete O' Donnell,

If the 25% refers to the final students who were still enrolled prior to the completion of the course who achieve the full diploma - you have provided me the information I requested.

I would like to thank you for your cooperation and your prompt response. You have seemed to have provided exactly what I wanted I apologize again for not making my request as clear as I should have.

I know this probably should be filed as a new request but would you be able to provide a breakdown to show the following:
1. Percentage of that 25% that achieved a Pass overall.
2. Percentage of that 25% that achieved a Merit overall.
3. Percentage of that 25% that achieved a Distinction overall.

You will be relieved to know that this should be the final request I make to you regarding this course.

Yours sincerely,

Mr Mazher

O'Donnell, Pete, Oldham College

Mr Mazher

The data kept in the student records system does not record a specific grade other than a Pass for this type of qualification. Although the college does not hold this information, as we don't keep all the paperwork that is sent through to the relevant Awarding Organisation, it may be the case that they do and could provide you with a more differentiated set of results.

Regards

Pete O'Donnell
Director - Information Systems and Data
Oldham College

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