Burnley Free School, East Lancashire

Bobby made this Freedom of Information request to Department for Education

This request has been closed to new correspondence. Contact us if you think it should be reopened.

The request was refused by Department for Education.

Dear Department for Education,
Please could I have access to the results of the survey's including parental surveys made by Russel Rook and Chapel street the sponsors of the proposed Burnley Free school.

Yours faithfully,

Bobby

Department for Education

Hi Bobby

Thank you for your recent email. A reply will be sent to you as soon as possible. For information, the departmental standard for correspondence received is that responses should be sent within 20 working days as you are requesting information under the Freedom of Information Act 2000.

Your correspondence has been allocated the reference number 2013/0033715.

Regards
Department for Education
Ministerial and Public Communications Division
Web: www.education.gov.uk
Twitter: www.twitter.com/educationgovuk
Facebook: www.facebook.com/educationgovuk

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Bobby left an annotation ()

Thanks,
I'm looking for the number of people asked, what they were asked, what postcode those people live in, any any other evidence that was submitted to make the decision that the school is needed.

Dear Department for Education,
Please could you update me on the progress of this request

Yours faithfully,

Bobby

Department for Education

1 Attachment

Dear Bobby

 

Thank you for your email dated 23 May 2013 and please accept my apologies
for the delay in responding.

 

We have your request about accessing the results of the surveys made by
Russell Rook and Chapel Street in relation to Burnley High School and will
endeavour to respond to you shortly.

 

 

Kind regards

 

 

Shenara Pennycooke

Free Schools Group

www.education.gov.uk

[1]Description:
C:\Users\spennycooke\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Signatures\DepartmentalSignature_files\DCSF_Email_Logo.gif

 

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Dear Shenara,
Thanks, yes, the request centres around the evidence presented by Russell Rook and Chapel Street and subsequently used for the DfE to approve this school.

Yours sincerely,

Bobby

Dear Shenara,
Please could you update me on the progress of this request.

Yours sincerely,

Bobby

Dear Department for Education,

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

I am writing to request an internal review of Department for Education's handling of my FOI request 'Burnley Free School, East Lancashire'.

Response to this request is delayed. Department for Education should normally have responded promptly and by 21 June 2013.

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,

Bobby

Dear Department for Education,
It seems I've not given my surname which will have delayed this request

Yours faithfully,

Bobby Waring

Dear Department for Education,
Please could you update me with the progress of this request and internal review

Yours faithfully,

Bobby Waring

Laura McInerney left an annotation ()

I'd give it 5 more days and then appeal to the ICO. There is no reason why you should have waited this long for an initial answer.

Department for Education

Dear Mr/Ms Waring

Thank you for your email of 2 July and subsequent email of 7 August.

I do apologise for the delay in responding to you. You requested the
following information: 
“Please could I have access to the results of the survey’s including
parental surveys made by Russel Rook and Chapel street the sponsors of the
proposed Burnley Free school”.
 
I can confirm that your request is currently under consideration within
the department and we will endeavour to respond to you as soon as
possible. Thank you for your patience in this matter.

Kind regards
 
Shenara Pennycooke

Department for Education
[1]www.education.gov.uk

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Dear Shenera,
thanks for your reply again for your records my email request was sent 23rd May

Yours sincerely,

Bobby Waring

Department for Education

Dear Mr Waring,
 

Thank you for your request for information dated 23 May 2013 and please
accept my apologies for the delay in responding to you. The details of
your request are:

 

“Please could I have access to the results of the survey’s [sic] including
parental surveys made by Russel Rook [sic] and Chapel street [sic] the
sponsors of the proposed Burnley Free school.”

 

I have considered your request under the Freedom of Information Act 2000
(“the Act”). I can confirm that the Department does hold information
relating to the parental surveys carried out by Chapel Street for Burnley
High School.

 

Although the Department does hold the information you have requested, this
information is being withheld from release under the exemption in Section
36(2) of the Act which covers information relating to the effective
conduct of public affairs. Section 36(2) of the Act exempts from
disclosure information which, in the reasonable opinion of a qualified
person (a Minister in the case of Government Departments):

 

·         would, or would be likely to, inhibit the free and frank
provision of advice - section 36(2)(b)(i);

 

·         would, or would be likely to inhibit the free and frank exchange
of views for the purposes of deliberation – section 36(2)(b)(ii); or

 

·         would otherwise prejudice, or would be likely otherwise to
prejudice, the effective conduct of public affairs – section 36(2)(c).

 

The Minister has decided that, in her reasonable opinion, disclosure of
the information you requested should be withheld under section 36(2)(c).

 

Section 36 is a qualified exemption and therefore the public interest test
has been applied. There is a general public interest in disclosure because
of the desirability of more open and transparent government and of
promoting public accountability. However, in relation to the release of
information relating to the Burnley High School, the following factors
have also been considered:

 

·         Parental surveys could contain a range of information, including
comments which fairly or otherwise criticise aspects of current provision.
For example, it would be damaging to an existing school if released
parental surveys contained derogatory comments about it. Depending on the
severity of the comments, it could put parents off enrolling their
children there or lead other parents to withdraw their children.  If
comments or allegations about existing schools made by parents hoping to
enrol their children with a potential new Free School are damaging or are
circulated widely in the local community, this could lead to falling
numbers and reduce school funding. If a school is perceived as struggling,
this could lead to good staff leaving and an increase in poor quality
teaching staff as well as increase the use of supply teachers. This would
impact adversely on the quality of education being experienced by the
students at that school. While FOI must be considered on a case-by-case
basis, it is possible that the release of only innocuous comments and
withholding derogatory ones would lead people to make assumptions about
the withheld information. This could in itself trigger the harmful effects
that withholding the information was intended to avoid.  

 

·         It is likely that potentially damaging information would be
withheld because those schools may have to divert resources to deal with
this if it became a local issue. Once again, releasing innocuous comments
only would therefore be likely to lead to assumptions being made about any
comments which were not released.   

 

·         Releasing the survey results may in future deter people from
coming forward to say they would send their pupils to schools, thereby
making it more difficult for the Department to assess whether there was a
need for a school, which could in turn lead to us approving schools that
do not attract enough pupils to be viable;

 

·         Releasing this information could provide a future proposer with
a false impression around benchmarking data for demand and may discourage
applicants to submit bids that they thought would be successful because of
meeting these levels of demand rather than submitting a bid that best
reflected the needs of the local community; and

 

·         The Department considers that releasing the requested
information is likely to deter future applications. Parents may be less
likely to fill in survey forms and potential applicants would know that
the details of their proposal would become public knowledge, demoralising
proposers, if they were unsuccessful, and making it unlikely that they
would want to act on the feedback they received to re-submit a better
quality application next time.

 

The Department has concluded that in this instance the factors comprising
the public interest consideration in withholding the information are
greater than the general public interest considerations for disclosure
described above.

 

If you have any queries about this letter, please contact me and quote the
reference number below in any future communications. 

 

We are aware that you have requested an internal review on this case,
however we have not conducted one at this point. Following on from this
substantive response we would suggest that if you are unhappy with the way
your request has been handled, you should make a complaint to the
Department by writing to me within two calendar months of the date of this
letter.  Your complaint will be considered by an independent review panel,
who were not involved in the original consideration of your request.

 

If you are not content with the response to your request, you may contact
the Information Commissioner’s Office. 

 
 
Yours sincerely,

Shenara Pennycooke
Free Schools Group
[1]www.education.gov.uk

 

Your correspondence has been allocated the reference number 2013/0033715

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Dear Department for Education,
What other investigations and evidence other than parental surveys were taken into account (such as taking into consideration existing provision, other current stakeholders etc?) Can evidence other than parental surveys be released?
How many parents were surveyed?
How many parents were in favour of this proposal?
How many were against this proposal?
How many were neutral?

Yours faithfully,

Bobby Waring

Dear Department for Education,
My concern is that parental comments are not necessarily evidence of a need and are merely opinions at the time

Yours faithfully,

Bobby Waring

Bobby left an annotation ()

The DfE will not publish the requested information with the excuse that parents might react and respond to it in the way they describe, yet they continue to publish school league tables, which parents can react and respond to

Department for Education

Dear Mr/Ms Waring

Thank you for your recent enquiry. A reply will be sent to you as soon as possible. For information; the departmental standard for correspondence received is that responses should be sent within 20 working days as you are requesting information under the Freedom of Information Act 2000. Your correspondence has been allocated reference number 2013/0056376

Thank you

Department for Education
Ministerial and Public Communications Division
Tel: 0370 000 2288

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Department for Education

Dear Mr Waring,
Thank you for your emails of 14 September 2013 requesting information
about the Burnley High School free school proposal. The details of your
requests are as follows:
 

 1. "Please can you publish the number of parents consulted on the
proposal of the free school who live; within 1 mile between 1 and 3
miles between 3 and 5 miles between 5 and 10 miles more than 10 miles
of the Burnley Town Hall postcode."
 2. "What other investigations and evidence other than parental surveys
were taken into account (such as taking into consideration existing
provision, other current stakeholders etc?) Can evidence other than
parental surveys be released?

          How many parents were surveyed?
          How many parents were in favour of this proposal?
          How many were against this proposal? 
          How many were neutral?"

I have dealt with your requests under the Freedom of Information Act 2000
("the Act").
 
I can confirm that the department does not hold the information you have
requested regarding the number of parents consulted within certain
distances from the Burnley Town Hall. During the application stage, we
asked groups to supply a map or diagram that showed the location of
parents expressing a preference for the school in relation to the school's
proposed site. Unfortunately, we cannot determine exact locations of those
parents and therefore are unable to provide you with the information you
have requested.
 
However, I can confirm that the department does hold some of the
information in relation to your second request regarding the number of
parents surveyed and how many were in favour of the proposed school.

Although the department does hold the information you have requested, this
information is being withheld from release under the exemption in Section
36(2) of the Act which covers information relating to the effective
conduct of public affairs. Section 36(2) of the Act exempts from
disclosure information which, in the reasonable opinion of a qualified
person (a Minister in the case of Government Departments):

* would, or would be likely to, inhibit the free and frank provision of
advice - section 36(2)(b)(i)
* would, or would be likely to, inhibit the free and frank exchange of
views for the purposes of deliberation - section 36 (2)(b)(ii); or
* would other prejudice, or would be likely to prejudice, the effective
conduct of public affairs - section 36(2)(c).

The Minister has decided that, in her reasonable opinion, disclosure of
the information you requested should be withheld under Section 36(2)(c).
Section 36 is a qualified exemption and therefore the public interest test
has been applied. There is a general public interest in disclosure because
of the desirability of more open and transparent government and of
promoting public accountability. However, in relation to the release of
information relating to the Burnley High School, the following factors
have also been considered:
 

* Releasing information about the number of parents surveyed and in
favour of the proposal could provide a future proposer with a false
impression around benchmarking data for demand. Applicants may submit
bids they thought would be successful because of meeting these levels
of demand rather than submitting a bid that best reflected needs of
the local community.
* Releasing information about the number of parents in favour of a
proposal could undermine efforts by a new free school to attract
applications from parents wishing to enrol their children at the
school. This in turn, could affect the school's financial viability,
its ability to attract good staff to apply for vacancies and
ultimately impact on the quality of education provided at the school.
* It is also likely that potentially damaging information would be
withheld if it is harmful to schools or if schools may need to divert
resources to deal with the consequences of release. While FOI requests
must be considered on a case by case basis, it is possible tht the
release of only innocuous details, such as the positive information,
and withholding of harmful ones, such as negative information, would
lead people to make assumptions about what is in the withheld
information.

You have also asked how many parents were against the proposal and how
many were neutral. I can confirm that the department does not hold the
information you have requested.
 
You have also asked what other investigations and evidence other than
parental surveys were taken into account and whether evidence other than
parental surveys can be released. I have dealt with your questions outside
of the Act. It is an important part of the application stage that
proposers demonstrate how they have engaged with the community. This could
be through public meetings, attendance at community events, discussions
with local schools and parents, handing out leaflets etc. Some of the ways
in which the trust engaged with the local community include: holding a
community meeting, carrying out interviews and surveys with local parents
and carers, meeting with the local MP and school leaders, and creating a
dedicated website which included a feedback form and information booklet.
 
During the pre-opening phase consultation will continue. The trust must
meet its statutory obligation to consult under Section 10 of the Academies
Act 2010. This Act requires the trust to consult with the people they
think appropriate which will include all the groups or people that the
trust believe the opening of the school may have an impact on. It must
also be thorough and transparent. The duty to consult rests solely with
the trust and therefore they decide when to carry out the consultation,
how long it will take, who to consult, the policies and information to
consult on and how they wish those they consult with to respond. The
proposers of the Burnley High School plan to begin their consultation
later this year.
 
The information supplied to you continues to be protected by copyright.
You are free to use it for your own purposes, including for private study
and non-commercial research, and for any other purpose authorised by an
exemption in current copyright law. Documents (except photographs)
can also be used in the UK without requiring permission for the purposes
of news reporting. Any other re-use, for example, commercial publication,
would require the permission of the copyright holder.
 
If you have any queries about this letter, please contact me and quote the
reference numbers below in any future communications.
 
If you are unhappy with the way your request has been handled, you should
make a complaint to the department by writing to me within two calendar
months of the date of this letter. Your complaint will be considered by an
independent review panel, who were not involved in the original
consideration of your request.
 
If you are not content with the outcome of your complaint to the
Department, you may then contact the Information Commissioner's Office.
 

Kind regards,

Shenara Pennycooke
Free Schools Group
[1]www.education.gov.uk

 

Your correspondence has been allocated reference numbers 2013/0056376 and
2013/0056377. If you need to respond to us, please visit:
[2]www.education.gov.uk/contactus, and quote your reference numbers.

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Dear Department for Education,

In your reply you say "... we asked groups to supply a map or diagram that showed the location of parents expressing a preference for the school in relation to the school's proposed site."
Please can you provide the names of the groups which were asked and the maps in relation to the school's proposed site?

Yours faithfully,

Bobby Waring

Dear Department for Education,
Please accept my apologies I should have also added;
Please could you provide;
the number of public meetings held, (dates and venues),
the details of the attendance at community events, (dates and venues)
the names of the local schools with which the proposer held discussions
copies of the leaflets which were handed out
the number community meetings held (dates and venues), the number of times the proposer met with the local MP and school leaders,
the web address for the feedback form

Yours faithfully,

Bobby Waring

Department for Education

Dear Mr/Ms Waring

Thank you for your recent enquiry. A reply will be sent to you as soon as possible. For information; the departmental standard for correspondence received is that responses should be sent within 20 working days as you are requesting information under the Freedom of Information Act 2000. Your correspondence has been allocated reference number 2013/0063684

Thank you

Department for Education
Ministerial and Public Communications Division
Tel: 0370 000 2288

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Department for Education

Dear Mr Waring,
Thank you for your email of 12 October 2013 requesting information about
the Burnley High School free school proposal. The details of your request
are as follows:
 
        In your reply you say "...we asked groups to supply a map or
diagram that showed the location
        of parents expressing a preference for the school in relation to
the school's proposed site."
 
        Please can you provide the names of the groups which were asked
and the maps in relation to the
        school's proposed site?"
 
I have dealt with your request under the Freedom of Information Act 2000
("The Act").
 
I can confirm that the department does hold the information you have
requested regarding the maps that showed the location of parents
expressing a preference for the school in relation to the school's
proposed site.
 
Although the department does hold the information you have requested, this
information is being withheld from release under the exemption in Section
36(2) of the Act which covers information relating to the effective
conduct of public affairs. Section 36(2) of the Act exempts from
disclosure information which, in the reasonable opinion of a qualified
person (a Minister in the case of Government Departments):
 

* would, or would be likely to, inhibit the free and frank provision of
advice - section 36(2)(b)(i);
* would, or would be likely to, inhibit the free and frank exchange of
views from the purposes of deliberation - section 36(2)(b)(ii); or
* would other prejudice, or would be likely otherwise to prejudice, the
effective conduct of public affairs - section 36(2)(c).

The Minister has decided that, in her reasonable opinion, disclosure of
the information you requested should be withheld under section 36(2)(c).
Section 36 is a qualified exemption and therefore the public interest
test has been applied. There is a general public interest in disclosure
because of the desirability of more open and transparent government and of
promoting public accountability. However, in relation to the release of
information relating to the Burnley High School, the following factors
have also been considered:

* Releasing the maps would involve releasing information about the
number of parents surveyed and in favour of the proposal. This could
provide a future proposer with a false impression around benchmarking
data for demand. Applicants may submit bids they thought would be
successful because of meeting these levels of demand rather than
submitting a bid that best reflected the needs of the local community.
* Releasing the maps would involve releasing information about the
number of parents in favour of the proposal, which could undermine
efforts by a new free school to attract applications from parents
wishing to enrol their children at the school. This in turn, could
affect the school's financial viability, its ability to attract good
staff to apply for vacancies and ultimately impact on the quality of
education provided at the school.

You have also requested the names of the groups which were asked to supply
a map or diagram. When referring to groups in my previous response, I was
referring to applicant groups. As part of the application process,
applicant groups are asked to provide a map or diagram showing the
location of parents expressing a preference for the school in relation to
the school's proposed site. A list of successful applicant groups is
available on the DfE website.

The information supplied to you continues to be protected by copyright.
You are free to use it for your own purposes, including for private study
and non-commercial research, and for any other purpose authorised by an
exception in current copyright law. Documents (except photographs) can be
used in the UK without requiring permission for the purposes of news
reporting. Any other re-use, for example commercial publication, would
require the permission of the copyright holder.

If you have any queries about this letter, please contact me and quote the
reference number below in any future communications.

If you are unhappy with the way your request has been handled, you should
make a complaint to the department by writing to me within two calendar
months of the date of this letter. Your complaint will be considered by an
independent review panel, who were not involved in the original
consideration of your request.

If you are not content with the outcome of your complaint to the
department, you may then contact the Information Commissioner's Office.

       
Yours sincerely,

Shenara Pennycooke
Free Schools Group
[1]www.education.gov.uk

Your correspondence has been allocated reference number 2013/0063684. If
you need to respond to us, please visit:
[2]www.education.gov.uk/contactus, and quote your reference number.

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Dear Department for Education,

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

I am writing to request an internal review of Department for Education's handling of my FOI request 'Burnley Free School, East Lancashire'.

The surveys carried out by Chapel Street would contribute to an impact assessment on the proposed freeschool and should be made available for comment.

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,

Bobby Waring

Department for Education

Dear Mr Waring

Thank you for your emails of 17 November 2013 requesting internal reviews
of cases 2013/0063274 and 2013/0063684. We are dealing with your requests
and will be in touch with you in due course.

Your correspondence has been allocated the reference number 2013/0071916.
If you need to respond to us, please visit:
[1]www.education.gov.uk/contactus, and quote your reference number.

Yours sincerely,

Department for Education
[2]www.education.gov.uk

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Department for Education

Dear Mr Waring,
I refer to your requests received on 17 November 2013 for an internal
review of two FOI cases.
 

The first case relates to your email of 11 October where you asked the
following question:

 Is there any evidence submitted by any body that can be released to show
that a freeschool is wanted in the area?

 The second case relates to your email of 12 October where you asked for
the following information :

 Please can you provide the names of the groups which were asked and the
maps in relation to the school’s proposed site?

The Department has now completed its internal review process and has
carried out a thorough review of the cases, chaired by a senior officer
who was not involved with the original request. The review confirmed that
the first request was not covered by the Freedom of Information Act. The
Department has also decided to uphold the original decision made on case
2013/0063684 not to disclose the information concerned  under Section
36(2)(c) of the Act, for the same reasons set out in the letter of 11
November 2013, along with the following additional arguments:

 ·       Release of the information could potentially create tension if
local people are identified and could be pressured or lobbied by groups
opposed to free schools, thus impairing their ability to exercise their
right to freely choose the appropriate secondary school for their child or
children

·       releasing the information would be mis-leading as the proposal has
been in the pre-opening phase since June and is now more developed. The
trust have engaged with more parents and stakeholders in the local area,
and parents are now at the stage of sending in formal applications to the
trust, meaning the data held by the department is out of date.

In addition to the arguments set out in the previous response and the
argument above, the panel also agreed that disclosure of the information
you requested should be withheld under Section 40 of the Act (Personal
information relating to a third party where release would breach the Data
Protection Act principles) for the following reason:

·         Releasing the map could lead to individual(s) who responded to
the survey being identified, with the potential effects identified above.
The Department does not consider that it would be fair to those
individuals to put them at risk in this way.

It is important for you to be aware that parental survey results
constitute only one part of the free school application process. The
assessment process is complex and considers a wide range of elements that
together inform the minister and enable him to make a decision on whether
or not to approve the proposal to move into the pre-opening phase.

You have also expressed concern that the survey results could contribute
to the impact assessment of the proposed free school on local education
provision. Demand surveys from applications are not taken into account as
part of this impact assessment. This is because the impact assessment is
undertaken by the department during the subsequent pre-opening phase, by
which time the original demand survey will be out of date. Before entering
into a funding agreement to establish a free school the Secretary of State
is required by law, under Section 9 of the Academies Act 2010, to complete
an assessment of the impact the opening of the free school will have on
maintained schools, academies, institutions within the further education
sector and alternative provision in the area in which the school will be
located. As part of this process the department seeks the views of the
local authority and takes into account the quality and popularity of
existing schools in the area.

The Chapel Street Community Trust is currently carrying out their s10
consultation, where they consult those who may be affected by the opening
of the school. I would encourage you to engage with the consultation
process if you would like to make any comments about the school.

I can assure you that any concerns raised by the local community are taken
into account when the Secretary of State makes his final decision on
whether to enter into a funding agreement with the free school.

If you are unhappy with this decision, you have the right to appeal
directly to the Information Commissioner. The Information Commissioner can
be contacted at:

                 The Case Reception Unit

                Customer Service Team

Information Commissioner’s Office

                Wycliffe House

                Water Lane

                Wilmslow

                Cheshire

                SK9 5AF

Further information about the Information Commissioner’s complaints
procedure can be found on the Information Commissioner’s Office website:
[1]http://www.ico.gov.uk/complaints/freedom...

Your correspondence has been allocated reference number 2013/0071916. If
you need to respond to us, please visit:
[2]www.education.gov.uk/contactus, and quote your reference number.

Yours sincerely,

Mark Sloan
Free Schools Group
[3]www.education.gov.uk

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