Correspence from and to DoE regarding Peacehaven Community School

The request was partially successful.

Alice Burchfield

Dear Department for Education,

I am requsting the following via the freedom of information act 2000.

1-All Correspondences sent to and received from IEB/governors, headteacher of Peacehaven Community School to the DfE and RSC-South East England and South London.

2-All Correspondences sent by the DfE and RSC- South East England and South London, to the school governors / IEB of Peacehaven Community School, the headteacher and local authority .

In relation to the academy conversion or with any reference to Peacehaven Community School in any capacity, to include all electronic and paper copies of any documents and emails, from 01 January 2015 to July 2019.

Please include the official sponsor template.

The action statement submitted by the L.A prompting the Academy Order, and all documents used to support the RSC South East England and South London and the Head Teacher Bureueau's decision in relation to Swale Academy Trust as a sponsor.

Kind Regards.

Alice Burchfield

MINISTERS, Department for Education

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ACCOUNT, Unmonitored, Department for Education

Dear Alice Burchfield

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 2019-0023662

Thank you

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

Dear Department for Education,

I am requsting the following via the freedom of information act 2000.

1-All Correspondences sent to and received from IEB/governors, headteacher of Peacehaven Community School to the DfE and RSC-South East England and South London.

2-All Correspondences sent by the DfE and RSC- South East England and South London, to the school governors / IEB of Peacehaven Community School, the headteacher and local authority .

In relation to the academy conversion or with any reference to Peacehaven Community School in any capacity, to include all electronic and paper copies of any documents and emails, from 01 January 2015 to July 2019.

Please include the official sponsor template.

The action statement submitted by the L.A prompting the Academy Order, and all documents used to support the RSC South East England and South London and the Head Teacher Bureueau's decision in relation to Swale Academy Trust as a sponsor.

ACCOUNT, Unmonitored, Department for Education

Dear Alice Burchfield,

 

Thank you for your request for information, reference number 2019-0023662
which was received on 26 June 2019. You requested:

 

“1-All Correspondences sent to and received from IEB/governors,
headteacher of Peacehaven Community School to the DfE and RSC-South East
England and South London.

 

2-All Correspondences sent by the DfE and RSC- South East England and
South London, to the school governors / IEB of Peacehaven Community
School, the headteacher and local authority .

 

In relation to the academy conversion or with any reference to Peacehaven
Community School in any capacity, to include all electronic and paper
copies of any documents and emails, from 01 January 2015 to July 2019.

 

Please include the official sponsor template.

 

The action statement submitted by the L.A prompting the Academy Order, and
all documents used to support the RSC South East England and South London
and the Head Teacher Bureueau's decision in relation to Swale Academy
Trust as a sponsor.”

 

I am dealing with your request under the Freedom of Information Act 2000
(“the Act”).

 

The Department holds information in scope of your request and believe the
following exemption applies to your request:

 

1.     Section 43 – Commercial Interest

 

The Act obliges the Department to respond to requests promptly, and in any
case no later than 20 working days after receiving your request.  However,
where a Section 43 exemption is applicable, the Department must consider
whether the public interest lies in disclosing or withholding the
information.  In these circumstances the Act allows the time for response
to be longer than 20 working days.

 

In this case the Department estimates that it will take an additional 20
days to take a decision on where the balance of the public interest lies. 
We anticipate that you will receive a full response by 21 August 2019.  If
it appears that it will take longer than this to reach a conclusion, we
will keep you informed.

 

If you have any queries about this letter, please contact me.  Please
remember to quote the reference number above 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, which 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,

 

Faye Saadieh

 

Office of the Regional Schools Commissioner

South East and South London

Trafalgar House, 1 Bedford Park, Croydon, CR0, 2AQ

SESL, RSC, Department for Education

Dear Alice Burchfield,

 

 

On 26 June 2019 you requested under the FOI Act:

 

“1-All Correspondences sent to and received from IEB/governors,
headteacher of Peacehaven Community School to the DfE and RSC-South East
England and South London.

 

2-All Correspondences sent by the DfE and RSC- South East England and
South London, to the school governors / IEB of Peacehaven Community
School, the headteacher and local authority .

 

In relation to the academy conversion or with any reference to Peacehaven
Community School in any capacity, to include all electronic and paper
copies of any documents and emails, from 01 January 2015 to July 2019.

 

Please include the official sponsor template.

The action statement submitted by the L.A prompting the Academy Order, and
all documents used to support the RSC South East England and South London
and the Head Teacher Bureueau's decision in relation to Swale Academy
Trust as a sponsor.”

On 24 July 2019 I confirmed that we do hold information falling within the
terms of your request. I explained that when a qualified exemption
requiring a public interest test applies to the information, the Act
allows the time for response to be longer than 20 working days, and a full
response must be provided within such time as is reasonable in all
circumstances.  I indicated that we hoped to provide you with a response
by 21 August, and that if it appeared that it would take longer to reach a
conclusion we would let you know. I am afraid that a further delay will
indeed be necessary and I am therefore emailing to let you know and to
explain the reasons for this.

 

Given the nature of the information in respect of which exemptions are, or
appear likely to be, engaged we estimate that it will take an additional
20 working days to reach a decision on where the balance of the public
interest lies, and to provide you with a full reply.  I apologise for the
fact that this is later than originally planned, but we hope now to let
you have the response by 18 September. 

 

The department takes its responsibilities under the Freedom of Information
Act very seriously, and always seeks to respond to enquiries openly and
fully in the spirit of the Act. If you are unhappy with the service you
have received in relation to your request and wish to make a complaint or
request a review of our decision, you should write to the Office of the
Regional Schools Commissioner quoting reference number 2019-0023662.

 

 

Kind Regards,

 

Faye Saadieh

 

Office of the Regional Schools Commissioner, South East and South London

Trafalgar House, 1 Bedford Park, Croydon, CR0 2AQ

 

SESL, RSC, Department for Education

8 Attachments

Dear Alice Burchfield,

 

Thank you for your request for information. I refer to your request which
was received on 26 June 2019. I have dealt with your request under the
Freedom of Information Act 2000 (“the Act”). You requested the following:

 

“1-All Correspondences sent to and received from IEB/governors,
headteacher of Peacehaven Community School to the DfE and RSC-South East
England and South London.

 

2-All Correspondences sent by the DfE and RSC- South East England and
South London, to the school governors / IEB of Peacehaven Community
School, the headteacher and local authority .

 

In relation to the academy conversion or with any reference to Peacehaven
Community School in any capacity, to include all electronic and paper
copies of any documents and emails, from 01 January 2015 to July 2019.

 

Please include the official sponsor template.

 

The action statement submitted by the L.A prompting the Academy Order, and
all documents used to support the RSC South East England and South London
and the Head Teacher Bureueau's decision in relation to Swale Academy
Trust as a sponsor.”

 

On 24 July 2019 I wrote to you confirming that we do hold information
falling within the terms of your request and I explained that when a
qualified exemption requiring a public interest test applies to the
information, the Act allows the time for response to be longer than 20
working days, and that a full response must be provided within such time
as is reasonable in all circumstances. I indicated that we hoped to
provide you with a response by 21 August 2019, and that if it appeared
that it would take longer to reach a conclusion we would let you know. On
20 August 2019 I wrote to you to inform you that a further delay would
indeed be necessary and explained that given the nature of the information
in respect of which exemptions are, or appeared likely to be engaged, we
estimated that it would take an additional 20 working days to reach a
decision on where the balance of the public interest lies, and to provide
you with a full reply by 18 September 2019.

A copy of the information you requested is enclosed, some of the
information has been redacted and is being withheld as set out below.

 1. Section 40 – personal information

We have enclosed documents with redactions to which we are applying
section 40(2) (personal data). Personal data is that which relates to a
living individual who can be identified from that data, or from that data,
and other information, which is likely to be in, or to come into, the
possession of the requestor. Disclosure of this information would
contravene a number of the data protection principles in the General Data
Protection Regulation/DPA 2018 and would be regarded as ‘unfair’. By that,
we mean the likely expectations of the data subject that his or her
information would not be disclosed to others and the effect which
disclosure would have on the data subject. Section 40(2) is an absolute
exemption and is not subject to a public interest test.

 2. Section 36 – Prejudice to effective conduct of public affairs

Under Section 36, the Department is not required to provide information,
if in the reasonable opinion of a qualified person (a Minister in the case
of Government departments) disclosure of the information under the Act
would be likely to, inhibit:

-       the free and frank provision of advice - 36(2)(b)(i) or

-       the free and frank exchange of views for the purpose of
deliberation - 36(2)(b)(ii) and

-       would be likely to otherwise to prejudice the effective conduct of
public affairs - 36(2)(c).

In relation to your request, a Minister has decided that, in their
reasonable opinion, disclosure of the information and communications in
relation to the conversion and sponsorship of Peacehaven Community School
is likely to have this prejudicial effect, and therefore the exemption in
Section 36 applies.

As Section 36 is a qualified exemption, a public interest test has been
carried out. In doing so, we have considered the following factors:

o It is in the public interest for there to be transparency in the way
officials carry out their functions. Releasing this information would
enable greater insight into academy conversions and sponsorship
processes.
o The desirability of citizens being confident that decisions are taken
on the basis of the best available information.
o Conversely, there is a public interest in maintaining levels of trust
and confidence between the Department and the stakeholders. Releasing
the information would likely restrict the openness with which
stakeholders share information, views and opinions with the
Department. This would in turn hinder the ability of officials to make
informed decisions as they may be limited in the information on hand.
o Publication of this information would likely have the dampening effect
described by s36(2)(c) as officials would likely be unable to
effectively carry out their roles effectively if stakeholders either
refuse to engage with the Department or refuse to provide essential
information required to make informed decisions.
o Publication of this information would also likely have the dampening
effect protected under s36(2)(b)(i) and (ii) as officials would be
less likely to offer advice or exchange views on potentially complex
issues. This would negatively impact on the level of discussions which
would ultimately have an impact on the quality of officials’
recommendations to allow for informed decision making.

The arguments for and against the release have been considered, and we
have determined that the balance of public interest falls in favour of
withholding the information. This is because disclosure :

o Would likely hinder the free and frank provision of advice
o Would likely hinder the free and frank exchange of  views for
deliberation
o Would likely hinder the effective conduct of affairs

 3. Section 43- Commercial Interests

Section 43 provides for information to be exempt from disclosure where
disclosure under this Act would, or would be likely to, prejudice the
commercial interests of any person. We have determined releasing the
information is likely to have this prejudicial effect and therefore the
exemption in S43 applies.

As Section 43 is a qualified exemption, a public interest test has been
carried out. In doing so, we have considered the following factors:

o It is in the public interest for there to be transparency in the
accountability for publicly spent money within the Department, to
ensure that public money is being used effectively and that the
Department is getting value for money. 
o This must be balanced against the public interest in protecting
commercially sensitive information.
o Disclosing this information would likely prejudice the commercial
interests of the trust involved in this conversion project. The
disclosure could also impact trusts’ willingness in future to provide
confidential information and undermine our ability to make quality
evidence based decisions.

The arguments for and against the release have been considered, and we
have determined that the balance of public interest falls in favour of
witholding the information. This is because disclosure :

o Would likely prejudice the commercial interests of trusts and impact
on their future openness and willingness to work with us.

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
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require the permission of the copyright holder.

Most documents produced by a government department or agency will be
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re-used under the Open Government Licence
([1]http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/doc/o...). For
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please see The National Archives website
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.

Copyright in other documents may rest with a third party. For information
about obtaining permission from a third party see the Intellectual
Property Office’s website at [2]www.ipo.gov.uk.

If you have any queries about this letter, please contact me. Please
remember to quote the reference number 2019-0023662 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 the Office of the
Regional Schools Commissioner 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

 

Faye Saadieh

 

Office of the Regional Schools Commissioner

South East and South London

Trafalgar House, 1 Bedford Park, Croydon, CR0, 2AQ

 

 

References

Visible links
1. http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/doc/o...
2. http://www.ipo.gov.uk/