Bucks 11+ Errors and the statistician that was chosen

The request was refused by The Buckinghamshire Grammar Schools.

Dear The Buckinghamshire Grammar Schools,

I would be grateful for all information related to the selection of the statistician chosen by GL Assessment to investigate the errors in the Secondary Transfer Test in September 2018 and their impact. I am keen to know the identity of the statistician as I believe this is now in the public domain.

Please can you release all communications between TBGS and GL Assessment in relation to the choice of statistician and the methods he/she chose to carry out there investigation and how they came to the recommendations that were applied.

Please also clearly state if you are aware of any links, however tenuous, between GL Assessment and the statistician used and whether other options were considered, and if so, their details, and if not, why not?

Yours faithfully,

B Darcy

TBGS, The Buckinghamshire Grammar Schools

Dear Mr Darcy
Thank you for your email. We will respond within 20 working days.
Kind regards
Mark Sturgeon
Chair
The Buckinghamshire Grammar Schools

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Dear TBGS,

Apologies - this is in relation to the errors in 2019.

I understand there were errors in 2018 too - again by GL Assessment so please include that in the request too.

Yours sincerely,

B Darcy

James Coombs left an annotation ()

Dear B Darcy,

I understand that the “independent” statistician who carried out the report into the test error was Dougal Hutchison, Chief Statistician at NFER for 24 years from 1986 to 2010 however I do not have this information first hand so it's good that you're asking. NFER was a charity but somehow its assets (test questions) ended up in the possession of the profit making commercial company Granada Learning Education Group. I’d be extremely surprised if there was *not* a connection between Mr Hutchison and GL Education but the response you get will probably be plausible deniability.

I requested a copy of the report itself in October https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/s.... TBGS refused on the grounds that it would damage GLA’s commercial interests and GLA would sue them. The ICO have been investigating since the tail end of last year but have a very high workload. Even without the report, it’s possible to determine a lot about the test as I explain here https://trak.org.uk/bucks-grammars-entra.... You might find that informative.

Get in touch via WDTK if you have any questions.

best wishes
James Coombs

TBGS, The Buckinghamshire Grammar Schools

Dear Mr Darcy

Further to your email of 20 June I am writing to inform you of the extent
to which we can comply with the request you made under the Freedom of
Information Act. You requested the following:

1.       All information related to the selection of the statistician
chosen by GL Assessment to investigate the errors in the Secondary
Transfer Test in September 2018 and their impact. I am keen to know the
identity of the statistician as I believe this is now in the public
domain.

2.       All communications between TBGS and GL Assessment in relation to
the choice of statistician and the methods he/she chose to carry out their
investigation and how they came to the recommendations that were applied.

3.       If you are aware of any links, however tenuous, between GL
Assessment and the statistician used and whether other options were
considered, and if so, their details, and if not, why not?

On 24 June you clarified that you had meant to refer to September 2019 but
that you now wished your request to cover tests taken in September 2018
and September 2019.

In relation to request 1, the statistician appointed by GL Assessment to
independently verify the proposed solutions and analysis concerning the
test errors was Dr Dougal Hutchison.

In relation to request 3 we can confirm that Dr Hutchison has no links
with GL Assessment.  Information about other options considered is not
held.

In relation to request 2 we are unable to provide you with the requested
information as this information has been supplied to us by our supplier,
GL Assessment Limited, subject to conditions of confidentiality.

Section 41 - Confidentiality

 

If information is provided to a public body in confidence, and a breach of
that confidence would result in action being taken against the public
body, then the public body does not have to disclose that information. As
stated above, the information requested in request 3 has been provided to
us by GL Assessment Limited subject to conditions of confidentiality, a
breach of which would result in GL Assessment Limited taking action
against us.

 

Yours sincerely

Mark Sturgeon
Chair
The Buckinghamshire Grammar Schools

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Dear The Buckinghamshire Grammar Schools,

Please pass this on to the person who conducts Freedom of Information reviews.

I am writing to request an internal review of The Buckinghamshire Grammar Schools's handling of my FOI request 'Bucks 11+ Errors and the statistician that was chosen'.

There is a strong link highlighted in the comment by Mr Coombs between GL Assessment and the statistician. I am keen to know why TGBS did not question the choice of statistician and look at different options. I am also not entirely convinced that Mr Sturgeon is being fully transparent.

A full history of my FOI request and all correspondence is available on the Internet at this address: https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/b...

Yours faithfully,

B Darcy

TBGS, The Buckinghamshire Grammar Schools

Dear Mr Darcy
Thank you for your email. Your original request and our response had no
reference comments from Mr Coombs - please can you clarify what you are
referring to?
Kind regards
Mark Sturgeon
Chair
The Buckinghamshire Grammar Schools

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TBGS, The Buckinghamshire Grammar Schools

Dear Mr Darcy

Further to your email of 3 September please find below the outcome from
the Internal Review that you requested. The review was carried out by Mr
David Hudson, Vice Chair of TBGS:

I confirm that, as reviewer for this request from Mr Darcy, I was not
involved in the original

correspondence;  I am also of the same level of seniority as the original
decision maker and therefore suitably placed to have reviewed in detail Mr
Darcy’s request and the response provided by TBGS.  Mr Darcy’s request is
to review TBGS’s handling of his FOI request 'Bucks 11+ Errors and the
statistician that was chosen’.

 

On the basis of the evidence reviewed, my findings are as follows:

·         Mr Darcy was keen to know why TGBS did not question the choice
of statistician and look at different options.  TBGS made it clear that it
had received assurances from GL Assessment that there were no links
between it and the statistician.  I am therefore happy that TBGS was
mindful of its responsibility to carry out appropriate due diligence
checks. 

·         Mr Darcy also wished to receive “All communications between TBGS
and GL Assessment in relation to the choice of statistician and the
methods he/she chose to carry out their investigation and how they came to
the recommendations that were applied”. 

As part of the contract with GL Assessment, the Chair of TBGS has signed a
letter to agree to GL Assessment’s requirement for TBGS to maintain
confidentiality.  TBGS also has a duty to respect this confidentiality
under Section 41 of the FOIA.    I am mindful that the ICO has upheld this
point in a separate review on this same query (Reference: [1]IC-47086-D9P3
– 22^nd September 2020). In the ICO’s response the Commissioner states
“…TBGS is also subject to binding written terms of confidentiality within
the Agreement for Secondary Selection Provision agreement with GL
Assessment. The confidentiality clauses prohibit TBGS from disclosing
information to the public about the Secondary Transfer Test.”  This
confirms the position which TBGS took as being appropriate and that “there
is a clear and explicit obligation of confidence in relation to the
withheld information”.

·         Mr Darcy also stated that he was “not entirely convinced that Mr
Sturgeon is being fully transparent”.  This appears to be based on
supposition and does not respect the professional way in which Mr Sturgeon
has dealt with Mr Darcy’s request

 

I conclude that TBGS has responded appropriately to Mr Darcy’s FOI
request.

 

If you are not satisfied with this response you can complain to the
Information Commissioner at:

Information Commissioner's Office
Wycliffe House
Water Lane
Wilmslow
Cheshire
SK9 5AF
Tel: 0303 123 1113
[2]www.ico.org.uk

 

Kind regards

Mark Sturgeon
Chair
The Buckinghamshire Grammar Schools

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Dear Mr Sturgeon

Thank you for your delayed response.

I am surprised to see that you have carried out an internal review of your own response claiming that Mr. Hudson had responded to my original query. If this were the case, why have you responded to my query with no mention of Mr. Hudson?

I am keen to know the relationship between you and Mr Hudson.
I would also like internal review to be made by someone independent of this process as required by law.

Yours sincerely,

B Darcy

TBGS, The Buckinghamshire Grammar Schools

Dear Mr Darcy
As stated in the first paragraph of my previous email which you have
reproduced below, the Internal Review was carried out by Mr David Hudson
who is Vice Chair of TBGS and the previous Chair. The rest of the email
was Mr Hudson's findings from the Internal Review you requested. Mr Hudson
had no involvement with the responses to your original requests so is a
suitable person to carry out such a review.
If you remain unsatisfied you can complain to the Information
Commissioner. Contact details were included in my previous email.
Kind regards
Mark Sturgeon
Chair
The Buckinghamshire Grammar Schools

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Dear The Buckinghamshire Grammar Schools,

Please pass this on to the person who conducts Freedom of Information reviews.

I am writing to request an internal review of The Buckinghamshire Grammar Schools's handling of my FOI request 'Bucks 11+ Errors and the statistician that was chosen'.

It is clear that Mr Hudson supports Mr Sturgeon in his role and so it is not surprising that Mr Hudson will agree with Mr Sturgeon's response to my request.

I suggest someone who can be truly independent at TBGS carry out this internal review.

A full history of my FOI request and all correspondence is available on the Internet at this address: https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/b...

Yours faithfully,

B Darcy

TBGS, The Buckinghamshire Grammar Schools

Dear Mr Darcy
Thank you for your email. As required by the FOIA the internal review was
carried out by Mr Hudson who was not involved in dealing with your
original request. If you remain unhappy with the outcome you can complain
to the Information Commissioner at:

Information Commissioner's Office
Wycliffe House
Water Lane
Wilmslow
Cheshire
SK9 5AF
Tel: 0303 123 1113
[1]www.ico.org.uk

Kind regards
Mark Sturgeon
Chair
The Buckinghamshire Grammar Schools

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