Correspondence with Graham Badman re Home Education review

H Dewet made this Freedom of Information request to Department for Children, Schools and Families

This request has been closed to new correspondence from the public body. Contact us if you think it ought be re-opened.

The request was refused by Department for Children, Schools and Families.

Dear Sir or Madam,

Please could you supply me with copies of all correspondence between the DCSF and Graham Badman, from August 2008 up to the present, regarding the current "Independent review of home education".

Yours faithfully,

H Dewet

Department for Children, Schools and Families

Dear Mr/Ms Dewet,

Thank you for your recent email. A reply will be sent to you as soon as
possible (where a response is required). For information, the
departmental standard for correspondence received is that responses
should be sent within 15 working days or 20 working days if you are
requesting information under the Freedom of Information Act 2000.

Your correspondence has been allocated the reference number 2009/0017527

Thank you.

Central Allocation Team

Public Communications Team

Tel: 0870 0002288
www.dcsf.gov.uk

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Dear Sir/Madam,

Re: FOI request 2009/0017527

I have not received the information which I requested about the Home Education review. Under the Freedom of Information Act your department should have responded no later than 24th March.

Please give this matter your prompt attention.

Yours faithfully,

H Dewet (Ms)

Department for Children, Schools and Families

Dear Ms Dewet

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
2009/0027877.

Thank you.

Central Allocation Team

Public Communications Team

Tel: 0870 0002288
www.dcsf.gov.uk

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Dear Sir or Madam,

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

I am writing to request an internal review of Department for Children, Schools and Families' handling of my FOI request 'Correspondence with Graham Badman re Home Education review'.

My initial FOI request was acknowledged giving a reference number (2009/0017527). There was no further communication from the DCSF regarding the request.

When the statutory 20-day deadline for response had elapsed I emailed again, calling the DCSF's attention to its breach of the law. Instead of a sensible reply, I received a form response as though to a new FOI request, with a new reference number (2009/0027877).

This is clearly an unacceptable standard of behaviour and in breach of the Freedom of Information Act. I am therefore requesting an internal review of the DCSF's failure to respond.

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

Yours faithfully,

H Dewet (Ms)

Department for Children, Schools and Families

Dear Ms Dewet,

Thank you for your recent email. A reply will be sent to you as soon as
possible (where a response is required). For information, the
departmental standard for correspondence received is that responses
should be sent within 15 working days or 20 working days if you are
requesting information under the Freedom of Information Act 2000.

Your correspondence has been allocated the reference number 2009/0028916

Thank you.

Central Allocation Team

Public Communications Team

Tel: 0870 0002288
www.dcsf.gov.uk

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Anne Jago left an annotation ()

You have my every sympathy with your battle to get information from the DCSF. Unfortunately it can be difficult to get accurate information from the department.

On 29 November 2007 I received a letter from the DCSF which said “I can confirm the following. You were referred to the Children’s Safeguarding Operations Unit (List 99) by your employer. To clear up any lack of clarity on my part during our conversation, this was Kent County Council.”

I found out from the GTC that my referral actually came from the DCSF! I received a grudging apology from the department on 10 December 2007: “I apologise if I misled you over the source of your referral to Children's Safeguarding Unit (List 99). I did not do so knowingly. The information I gave was provided in good faith. I was not aware of the circumstances outlined by the GTC until I read this email.”

On 29 August 2007 I received a letter from the DCSF which said "I fully recognise that you rightly have strong feelings about an issue as important as pupil safety. You sincerely believed yourself to be right, and your head teacher to be wrong, about the risk of taking an individual pupil on a residential visit. I appreciate that, given such strong feelings, it can be very hard to accept that even if your head teacher's view were wrong, it could still be reasonable for the Governing Body to criticise you for expressing your view to the residential provider. .....In our view it was reasonable."

A DCSF email dated 13 October 2008 says: “.......we have therefore never expressed a view on her (my) case”. They seem to have forgotten they referred me to List 99!

Dear Sir/Madam,

Re: 2009/001752, 2009/0027877, 2009/0028916

Thank you for awarding me my third reference number for the same set of correspondence.

It is now 25 working days since my original Freedom of Information request to this address, and I have still not had any human-generated response. Since my request for an internal review seems likely to produce the same absence of activity within DCSF, I have complained to the Information Commissioner's Office about your handling of the situation.

I await my fourth reference number with stoicism.

Yours faithfully,

H Dewet (Ms)

Augustin Moga left an annotation ()

The row containing the list of reference numbers has a typo -- the first number in the list is missing the final "7" (2009/0017527 vs. 2009/001752). It probably makes no difference to the computer bot scanning the requests and generating the standard answer, though.

Just out of curiosity: was there a fourth reference number provided?

H Dewet left an annotation ()

Thanks for spotting that, Augustin - doesn't explain the previous two emails not getting matched correctly, though. :) No, there wasn't even an auto-reply to the fourth email. Nothing from ICO yet, either. :(

Augustin Moga left an annotation ()

Why don't you send them a reminder every day: "You are now 15 (16/17/...) days overdue with an answer. And I piled up three (four/five/...) reference numbers for the same request.

Your lack of responsiveness is more worrying with each day gone."

And cc your favourite local reporters on each e-mail. At some point, hopefully, someone will run a story on your saga. Maybe (though I won't bet on it) that'll embarrass them enough to come up with a more thorough explanation.

A White left an annotation ()

Why has this one not been sent for internal review since you requested it?

This one is still awaiting a response but has been marked as sent for review.
http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/bu...

Altogether very poor show.

Department for Children, Schools and Families

Dear Ms Dewet,
.
I am very sorry that you have not yet received a response to your
requests, received 24 February and 27 March, under the Freedom of
Information Act 2000 (the Act) seeking information in relation to the
review of home education.

The Department aims to respond to all requests under the Act within 20
working days and normally does so in at least 90% of cases. I am aware
however that this limit has now been exceeded, in your case by a
considerable margin. This has been due to a combination of circumstances
beyond our control, leading to a bottleneck of requests. I would however
like to assure you that the Department takes its statutory
responsibilities under the Act very seriously and is always concerned
about delays in responding to individual requesters, recognising
the inconvenience and frustration which this may cause.

The Department has now set in place special arrangements to respond to all
requests about the home education review which are still awaiting a reply,
and I anticipate that it will be possible get a substantive response to
you by 29 May. If there are any further delays I shall write to you again
to let you know why.

Once again please accept my sincere apologies for the delay.
Yours sincerely,

Josephine Bell

Independent Schools Partnerships and Strategy Team
[email address]
[1]www.dcsf.gov.uk

Your correspondence has been allocated the reference number 2009/0017527.

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Communications via the GSi may be automatically logged, monitored and/or
recorded for legal purposes.

References

Visible links
1. http://www.dcsf.gov.uk/

Department for Children, Schools and Families

Dear Ms Dewet,
Thank you for your email received 27 March requesting an internal about
the time the Department has taken to answer your earlier request under the
FOI Act (ref 2009/0017527).

The Department has now arranged an independent internal review of its
handling of your request by a Senior Civil Servant. That has been arranged
for 29 May and we shall write to you within 20 working days of the review
to let you know the outcome and of course earlier if at all possible.

The Department is very conscious of the unacceptable delays which you have
experienced in processing your requests under the Act. I am in touch with
the Department's Information Rights Manager about your case, and we are
doing all that we can to expedite a response. Unfortunately, as I have
explained by earlier email, circumstances beyond our control have made
delays difficult to avoid, but I can assure you that your case has not
been overlooked - indeed all cases on this subject are reviewed on a
regular basis every week in order to ensure that action is taken. Once
again I should like to apologise for the delays that you have experienced,
and I shall be in touch again as soon as possible.
Yours sincerely,

Josephine Bell (Mrs)

Independent Schools Partnerships and Strategy Team
[email address]
[1]www.dcsf.gov.uk

Your correspondence has been allocated the reference number 2009/0028916.

show quoted sections

Communications via the GSi may be automatically logged, monitored and/or
recorded for legal purposes.

References

Visible links
1. http://www.dcsf.gov.uk/

Department for Children, Schools and Families

Dear Ms Dewet,
I refer to your email request for information, which was received on 24
February 2009. You requested copies of all correspondence between the DCSF
and Graham Badman, from August 2008 up to the present, regarding the
current "Independent review of home education". I have dealt with your
request under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 ("the Act").

Further to my email of 6 May, I should like to apologise again for the
delay which you have experienced in receiving a substantive response to
your request. This has been considered - as you requested on 26 March - by
an independent internal review and the Department will be writing to you
separately about that. In the meantime the Department has decided that
the public interest lies in withholding the information which you
requested.

While I can confirm that the Department holds information within scope of
your request it is being withheld because the following exemptions apply:

Section 35(1)(a) of the Act. This exemption is engaged in respect of all
the information within scope of your request because the information
relates to the formulation and development of government policy. As this
is a qualified exemption under the Act the Department is required to
balance the public interest in releasing the information against that in
withholding the information. The Department recognises the general public
interest in openness, transparency and being able to hold government to
account; it accepts that release of the information could give the public
insight into how such reviews are set up and conducted; and it accepts
that release of the information could provide reassurance that this review
is properly commissioned and constituted. Conversely it recognises that
release of the information would, or would be likely to, prejudice
effective policy formulation and development through inhibiting the free
and frank provision of advice and exchange of views, both in this and
future reviews. The Department notes that this review was at the time of
the request, and is currently, still in progress. It notes that the
reasons for the review and the appointment of Mr Badman have been
announced publicly. It also considers that the paramount public interest
lies in securing a thorough and well-conducted review which is able to
take account of a wider range of views and reach and express its
conclusions without distraction as swiftly as possible. In the
Department's view the balance of public interest therefore falls clearly
in favour of withholding the information.

Section 40 of the Act. This exemption is engaged in respect of some of the
information within scope of your request which contains personal data, the
release of which would contravene the data protection principles set out
in the Data Protection Act 1998. As this is an absolute exemption the
Department is not required to run a test to balance the public interest in
withholding the information against that in release.

Section 43 of the Act. This exemption is engaged in respect of some of the
information within scope of your request, the disclosure of which would,
or would be likely to prejudice commercial interests, including those of
the Department. As this is a qualified exemption under the Act the
Department is required to balance the public interest in releasing the
information against that in withholding the information. While the
Department recognises the general public interest in openness,
transparency and being able to hold government to account and that there
is particular interest in financial matters, it takes the view that public
interest is best served by being able to conduct discussions about
contractual matters in a way which respects confidentiality, especially
during the period of the work in question, and which does not adversely
impact on future negotiations. The key public interest lies both in
securing a thorough and well-conducted review which is able to take
account of a wider range of views and reach and express its conclusions
without distraction as swiftly as possible, and in protecting commercially
sensitive information.

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, 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,

Josephine Bell (Mrs)

Independent Schools Partnerships and Strategy Team
[email address]
[1]www.dcsf.gov.uk

Your correspondence has been allocated the reference number 2009/0017527.

show quoted sections

Communications via the GSi may be automatically logged, monitored and/or
recorded for legal purposes.

References

Visible links
1. http://www.dcsf.gov.uk/

M Stafford left an annotation ()

'accepts that release of the information could provide reassurance
that this review is properly commissioned and constituted'
This review is so corrupt and unprofessional, lacking in evidence and analysis, picking quotes to suggest the contributor said the opposite of what they actually said, that it couldn't possibly do that. Is that really why the information is being withheld?

Department for Children, Schools and Families

1 Attachment

Please find attached response to your request for an internal review into
your correspondence reference 2009/0017527.

Jo Bell (Mrs)
Independent Schools Partnerships and Strategy Team
Ext 62701 (01325 392701)

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Communications via the GSi may be automatically logged, monitored and/or
recorded for legal purposes.

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