Details of the 1000 'transformed' sponsored academies

J Downs made this Freedom of Information request to Department for Education

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 successful.

Dear Department for Education,

In her speech to the Conservative Conference, Secretary of State Nicky Morgan, said ‘1000 failing schools transformed under the leadership of strong sponsors.’

I should be grateful if you could clarify what Ms Morgan meant by 'failing'. I should also be grateful if you could let me know the number of sponsored academies whose predecessor schools were 'failing' by this definition. Thirdly, I should like you to give the number of these academies which have subsequently been judged Outstanding, Good, Requires Improvement or Inadequate and the number which have yet to be inspected.

There is no need to list individual sponsored academies. The number will be sufficient.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Yours faithfully,

J Downs

Department for Education

Dear Mr/Ms Downs

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 2015-0045200

Thank you

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

show quoted sections

Dear Department for Education

2015-0045200

By law you should have responded to the above FoI request by yesterday. I should be grateful if you could send me a response .

Yours faithfully,

J Downs

Department for Education

Dear Ms Downs

Thank you for your request for information, which was received on 8 October 2015. You requested:
In her speech to the Conservative Conference, Secretary of State Nicky Morgan, said ‘1000 failing schools transformed under the leadership of strong sponsors.’

I should be grateful if you could clarify what Ms Morgan meant by 'failing'. I should also be grateful if you could let me know the number of sponsored academies whose predecessor schools were 'failing' by this definition. Thirdly, I should like you to give the number of these academies which have subsequently been judged Outstanding, Good, Requires Improvement or Inadequate and the number which have yet to be inspected.

There is no need to list individual sponsored academies. The number will be sufficient.
I have dealt with your request under the Freedom of Information Act 2000.

In her speech to the Conservative party conference, the Secretary of State was referring to the more than 1000 local authority schools which have become sponsored academies since May 2010, typically these are schools that were rated as inadequate or requires improvement by Ofsted and may also have been below floor standards.

Under section 21 of the Freedom of Information Act, the Department is not required to provide information in response to a request if it is already reasonably accessible to you.
You can find details of the Ofsted inspections of sponsored academies, up to 30 September 2015, and their outcomes on GOV.UK at: https://www.gov.uk/government/statistica....
The title of the document which you require is ‘Management information - Schools - 30 September 2015’. It is the third document on the list. The tab which you require is ‘provider level data’.
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

Nathan Hug

Web: https://www.education.gov.uk<https://www.education.gov.uk/>
Twitter: https://www.twitter.com/educationgovuk
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/educationgovuk

[https://www.education.gov.uk/images2/iri...

show quoted sections

Dear Department for Education

Thank you for your delayed reply. I am puzzled why you waited until after the statutory 20 working days to tell me you were under no obligation to provide the information because it is available elsewhere. You could surely have given me this information much earlier.

You gave me a link to where I could find the information required. However, the spreadsheet did not give me some of the requested information. It did not give inspection results for predecessor schools only those schools which had been previously inspected as sponsored academies. It also listed all sponsored academies which had been inspected including those which were opened before 2010.

Nevertheless, the data given shows there were fewer than 1000 sponsored academies inspected. It is unclear, therefore, how the Secretary of State calculated her figure of 1000 schools improved thanks to a 'strong sponsor' especially as not all of the inspected sponsored academies were Good or better.

Yours faithfully

J Downs

Department for Education

Dear Ms Downs
Thank you for your request for information, which was received on 5 November 2015. You requested:
You gave me a link to where I could find the information required. However, the spreadsheet did not give me some of the requested information. It did not give inspection results for predecessor schools only those schools which had been previously inspected as sponsored academies. It also listed all sponsored academies which had been inspected including those which were opened before 2010.
I am dealing with your request under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 ("the Act").
The Department holds the information you have requested. However, I consider that the following exemption applies to your request:
Section 22: Information Intended For Future Publication

Section 22 may apply if there is an intention to publish the requested information at some future date. This ensures that the FOI Act does not force public authorities into premature publication of information. Section 22 is subject to a public interest balance.
Key points:

• Section 22 may apply even if the specific date for publication has not yet been determined but the proposed publication timetable must be reasonable in all the circumstances;

• Section 22 will only apply if it has been decided, before the request is received, to publish the information concerned.
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 an exemption, such as the one listed above, 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 your case the Department estimates that it will take an additional 15 days to take a decision on where the balance of the public interest lies. It is anticipated that you will receive a full response by 23 December 2015. 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, 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

Nathan Hug

Web: https://www.education.gov.uk<https://www.education.gov.uk/>
Twitter: https://www.twitter.com/educationgovuk
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/educationgovuk

[https://www.education.gov.uk/images2/iri...

show quoted sections

Laura McInerney left an annotation ()

FOI for the evidence of the confirmed intention to publish.

Department for Education

Dear J Downs

Thank you for your request for information, which was received on 5 November 2015. You requested:

You gave me a link to where I could find the information required. However, the spreadsheet did not give me some of the requested information. It did not give inspection results for predecessor schools only those schools which had been previously inspected as sponsored academies. It also listed all sponsored academies which had been inspected including those which were opened before 2010.

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

Regarding your request for predecessor school inspection results, the Department publishes information each month about schools that have converted to an academy. This information includes details of the predecessor schools and date of conversion and can be found at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publicatio...

Information relating to the inspection results of these predecessor schools is being withheld under section 22 of the Freedom of Information Act.

Section 22 provides for information to be exempt from disclosure where the information is held by the Department with a view to its publication by the Department or any other person, in this case Ofsted, at some future date. It was so held at the time your request was made, and it is reasonable in all the circumstances that the information should be withheld until that date.

Section 22 of the Act is a qualified exemption which means that a public interest test needs to be carried out, and in doing so the following factors have been considered:

• It is acknowledged that there is a general public interest in disclosure because of the need to be open and transparent and that the sharing of information with the public should be free and open.

• However, the public interest in permitting Ofsted to publish information in a manner and at a time of its own choosing is also important. It is part of the effective conduct of public affairs that the general publication of information is a conveniently planned and managed activity within the reasonable control of the public authority.

• Ofsted has already determined that it will publish this information on its website in due course.

• It is not reasonable for the Government to be expected to release piecemeal information in advance of any planned timetable and planned publication, and there is a strong argument in favour of allowing everyone to view this information at the same time. If it were to release this information as requested on varying occasions this would result in partial information being released over a protracted period leading to confusion and inaccuracy.

The arguments for and against release have been considered and it is our view that the balance of public interest falls in favour of the maintenance of this exemption.

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

Nathan Hug 

Web: https://www.education.gov.uk<https://www.education.gov.uk/>
Twitter: https://www.twitter.com/educationgovuk
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/educationgovuk

[https://www.education.gov.uk/images2/iri...

show quoted sections

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 'Details of the 1000 'transformed' sponsored academies'.

On 7 October I requested the names of the 1000 sponsored academies which were referred to by Education Secretary Nicky Morgan as having been 'transformed' as a result of having become sponsored.

I received a reply on 5 November telling me that 'Under section 21 of the Freedom of Information Act, the Department is not required to provide information in response to a request if it is already reasonably accessible to you.'

I would like you to investigate why it took more than the statutory 20 working days to tell me the information was 'readily accessible'. This surely should have been known sooner.

My second complaint is that the accompanying spreadsheet with the belated reply did not give me the information I required - namely the Ofsted judgement for the predecessor schools of the sponsored academies. I resubmitted my request.

I received a reply today telling me 'Information relating to the inspection results of these predecessor schools is being withheld under section 22 of the Freedom of Information Act' and will be published on Ofsted's website in due course. This contradicts my first reply which told me the information was reasonably accessible (when, in fact, it was not).

But Ofsted judgements of predecessor schools were in the public domain at the time the judgements were made. It is unclear why judgements which were once available are no longer accessible.

I was also told: 'It is not reasonable for the Government to be expected to release piecemeal information in advance of any planned timetable and planned publication, and there is a strong argument in favour of allowing everyone to view this information at the same time. If it were to release this information as requested on varying occasions this would result in partial information being released over a protracted period leading to confusion and inaccuracy.'

But Ofsted judgements for predecessor schools have already been released. It appears they have been withdrawn because reports for schools deemed 'closed' are not always available on Ofsted's website. The 'partial information' referred to above was once in the public domain. It cannot be argued, therefore, that providing information which was once available is releasing it 'piecemeal'. Rather it appears it is being withdrawn 'piecemeal'.

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

Yours faithfully,

J Downs

Department for Education

Dear Ms Downs

I refer to your request for an internal review which was received on 16 December 2015. You requested:

I would like you to investigate why it took more than the statutory 20 working days to tell me the information was 'readily accessible'. This surely should have been known sooner.

My second complaint is that the accompanying spreadsheet with the belated reply did not give me the information I required - namely the Ofsted judgement for the predecessor schools of the sponsored academies. I resubmitted my request.

I received a reply today telling me 'Information relating to the inspection results of these predecessor schools is being withheld under section 22 of the Freedom of Information Act' and will be published on Ofsted's website in due course. This contradicts my first reply which told me the information was reasonably accessible (when, in fact, it was not).
The Department has now completed its internal review process and has carried out a thorough review of the case, chaired by a senior officer who was not involved with the original requests. This review upheld the original decisions not to disclose the information concerned, for the same reasons set out in the letters of 5 November 2015 and 16 December 2015. However, the panel also concluded that our responses to you could have been more helpful, and has asked that I explain more clearly how we handled your requests, as well as address the points you raise in your most recent letter.

Time taken to respond to initial FOI request

First, regarding your request that we investigate why it took more than the statutory 20 working days to respond to your initial Freedom of Information (FOI) request, we would like to offer our sincere apologies for the delay in our original response. The Department takes very seriously its obligations under the Act, including the requirement to respond within the statutory deadline of 20 working days. We are afraid that we were not able to maintain this standard in that instance and while there may be considered to be mitigating circumstances, this delay is not acceptable and we are very sorry for the inconvenience which it may have caused you.

First request for information (7 October 2015)

Regarding your first request for information of 7 October, we interpreted this request as asking for three pieces of information. First, you asked us to clarify what the Secretary of State meant by her use of the word ‘failing’ when she said ‘1000 failing schools transformed under the leadership of strong sponsors’ at the Conservative party conference. Secondly, you asked for the ‘number of sponsored academies whose predecessor schools were “failing” by ‘this definition’. Thirdly, you requested the number of these academies which have subsequently been judged Outstanding, Good, Requires Improvement or Inadequate and the number which have yet to be inspected. The Internal Review Panel concluded our interpretation of your request was reasonable.

In our response to your first query we explained that the Secretary of State was referring to the ‘more than 1000 local authority schools that have become sponsored academies since May 2010, typically those previously rated as Inadequate or Requires Improvement by Ofsted and may also have been below the floor standards’. The Internal Review Panel considered that our original response could have explained more clearly that this was also the answer to the second element of your question – i.e. that all schools that have become sponsored academies were previously, by the same definition, ‘failing‘.

In our response to you third query, we cited section 21 of the Act which stipulates that the Department is not required to provide information in response to a request if it is already reasonably accessible to you. The spreadsheet which we directed you to on GOV.UK provided inspection results for sponsored academies. This could be used to find inspection results of the sponsored academies referred to by the Secretary of State in her speech at the Conservative party conference. Used in conjunction with the current list of open academies on the Department for Education pages of GOV.UK, it could also be used to determine the number of sponsored academies that were formerly local authority maintained schools which have yet to be inspected. The Internal Review concluded that the use of section 21 was reasonable in this case, but that we could have been more helpful in explaining how this answered your request in our initial reply.

Second request for information (5 November 2015)

In your subsequent communication of 5 November 2015 we interpreted that you were asking for the Ofsted inspection results of sponsored academy predecessor schools. The panel noted that the scope of this request was different to the way in which we had interpreted your first request, and therefore it was reasonable to have provided a different response.

In our response of 16 December, we said that the requested information was being withheld under section 22 of the FOI Act on the grounds that there was an intention to publish this on a future date. The Internal Review Panel concluded that this did not contradict our response of 5 November which cited section 21 of the Act. The citation of section 21 of the act related to your request – using the interpretation explained above – for the current Ofsted results of sponsored academies. Our citation of section 22 was in relation to your subsequent wider request for information concerning historical Ofsted results, in particular, those of sponsored academy predecessor schools. The Internal Review Panel also concluded that the use of section 22 was correct as Ofsted had a settled intention to publish historical Ofsted results including those for sponsored academy predecessor schools.

In our response, we provided you with a link to a spreadsheet on GOV.UK which included details of predecessor schools for sponsored academies and their date of conversion. This spreadsheet could be used in conjunction with historical Ofsted inspection results once they were published to identify which of the schools were of interest to you.

Further request for information (17 December)

Regarding your email of 17 December in which you requested evidence to substantiate the claim that at the time the request was made on 7 October there was a settled intention to publish the information you had requested.

You requested:

the number of such schools which had subsequently been judged Outstanding, Good, Requires Improvement or Inadequate since conversion and the number which have yet to be inspected.

The request was refused citing Section 22 of the Freedom of Information Act on the grounds there was an intention to publish the requested information at some future date… I am writing to request evidence to substantiate the claim that the time the request was made on 7 October 2015 there was a settled intention to publish.

However, we interpret that you in fact want to request this evidence in relation to the Ofsted inspection results of the predecessor schools of sponsored academies, to which we applied the section 22 exemption. So we are handling your request as such.

Please find a hyperlink below to a response dated 14 July to an information request made to Ofsted which related to the future publication of inspection results of academy predecessor schools from 2005 onwards. This provides evidence, which was already in the public domain, that there was a settled intention to publish the information which pre-dates your request of 7 October:

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

Further to that, Ofsted have now in fact fulfilled that commitment and published historical Ofsted inspection results, including those of sponsored academy predecessor schools. This information can now be found on the Ofsted website by using the hyperlink below. The information which you require is contained within the third spreadsheet on the list and is titled ‘Monthly management information- schools – 1 September 2005 – 31 August 2015’.

https://www.gov.uk/government/statistica...

Conclusion of the Internal Review

The Internal Review Panel considered in detail how your two FOI cases were handled. The panel concluded that the use of section 21 and section 22 exemptions in your two FOI requests had been reasonable and upheld the original decisions. However, we would like to reiterate our apology for not responding to your first request within the statutory 20 working day period, and for not explaining our approach more clearly in the original responses.

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: https://ico.org.uk/for-organisations/gui...

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 also 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.

Most documents produced by the Department for Education and Ofsted will be protected by Crown Copyright. Most Crown copyright information can be re-used under the Open Government Licence (http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/doc/o...). For information about the OGL and about re-using Crown Copyright information please see The National Archives website -http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/infor... .

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 www.ipo.gov.uk<http://www.ipo.gov.uk/>.

Kind regards,

Emily Wilson 

Web: https://www.education.gov.uk<https://www.education.gov.uk/>
Twitter: https://www.twitter.com/educationgovuk
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/educationgovuk

[https://www.education.gov.uk/images2/iri...

show quoted sections

Dear Department for Education,

Thank you for your reply. You say there was a 'settled intention' by Ofsted to publish inspection results linking Ofsted judgements for sponsored academies with their predecessor schools ie the school which was technically closed and turned into a sponsored academy. But the link you gave did no such thing. The third spreadsheet you directed me to was entitled 'Management information - schools - 31 August 2015' and not ‘Monthly management information- schools – 1 September 2005 – 31 August 2015’ as you said. The former gives Table 1: 'Most recent overall effectiveness judgement for schools inspected at 31 August 2015...' This showed 835 sponsored academies had been inspected (somewhat less than the 1000 which Nicky Morgan said had been 'transformed') but did not link these inspection results with any predecessor school. For example, Molehill Primary Academy was inspected in 2013/14 as a sponsored academy and was judged Inadequate. The Ofsted judgement of the predecessor school, Molehill Copse Primary School is not given. There is no inspection report for the predecessor school on Ofsted's website.

However, I found Molehill Copse Primary School in the first spreadsheet listed: 'Management information - schools - 1 September 2005 to 31 August 2015'. This told me Molehill had been inspected in 2006/7, judged Inadequate and given Notice to Improve. The hyperlink to Molehill's Ofsted page did not work - it said the page could not be found.

It would appear from the data you supplied that Molehill Copse Primary School was not inspected again until after it became a sponsored academy in 2012. But an internet search turned up an Ofsted report for Molehill Copse Primary School dated January 2012 which judged Molehill Copse to be Satisfactory.

Similarly, ARK Rose Primary Academy was judged Inadequate in May 2014 according to the former spreadsheet. No inspection judgement for the previous school was given. I had to search Edubase for the name of the predecessor school: Primrose Hill Community School. I then had to look at the second spreadsheet which told me Primrose Hill Community School was placed in Special Measures in February 2008. The link to the Ofsted website worked. This showed the school was judged Satisfactory in June 2012.

It is clear, then, that the information you provided did not allow me to easily link the Ofsted judgement of a sponsored academy with the last inspection before the school became an academy. It is unreasonable to expect researchers to check Edubase for name changes, juggle between two very wide spreadsheets to link judgements, check Ofsted's website for the last full report if the link given doesn't work and then, just to make sure, do an internet search to find out if a more up-to-date pre-conversion inspection results exists. There are hundreds of such academies. The information, then, is not as easily accessible as you claim.

One thing is certain, however. There could not have been 1000 schools 'transformed' by becoming sponsored academies since 2010 because 1000 sponsored academies have not be inspected. About 200 of these were set up under Labour in any case - they existed before 2010. And some, including the two examples above were not 'failing' but satisfactory. Their transformation was in the opposite direction.

Yours faithfully,

J Downs

Department for Education

Dear Ms Downs

Thank you for your letter dated 16 January 2015 regarding the outcome of the internal review conducted by the Department for Education in relation to your Freedom of Information (FOI) requests.

You point out that the spreadsheet containing historical Ofsted inspection results titled ‘Management information- schools – 1 September 2005 – 31 August 2015’ was not the third item on the list of downloadable documents which we referred you to. Webpages on GOV.UK are updated on a regular basis. This means that the order in which documents appear on a webpage are sometimes subject to change. I also note that we told you the name of the document was ‘Monthly Management information- schools – 1 September 2005 – 31 August 2015’ when the correct name was ‘Management information- schools – 1 September 2005 – 31 August 2015 ’. I apologise for any confusion caused. Please note that in the Ofsted spreadsheet there will be a row for each Ofsted inspection a school has had between September 2005 and August 2015.

Turning now to your complaint that the hyperlink to the Ofsted webpage for Molehill Copse Primary School did not work, this is a matter for Ofsted to address as the Department for Education is not responsible for the content which other government bodies publish. Should you wish to take this matter up with Ofsted you can do so by using the contact details which I have provided below:

Ofsted
Piccadilly Gate
Store Street
Manchester
M1 2WD

General enquiries 0300 123 1231
Email: [email address]<mailto:[email address]>

Regarding your concerns about researchers having to check Edubase for name changes of schools which have become academies, in our letter dated 16 December 2015, we provided you with a link to a spreadsheet on GOV.UK which included the names and unique school reference numbers (URNs) of predecessor schools for sponsored academies and their date of conversion:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publicatio... (Open_academies tab)

This means that it is not necessary to use Edubase to look up name changes as the information is available on this spreadsheet.

In your letter you say that there ‘could not have been 1000 schools "transformed" by becoming sponsored academies since 2010 because 1000 sponsored academies have not been inspected’. We reiterated in our letter following the internal review that when the Secretary of State spoke about these ‘transformed’ schools at the Conservative party conference, she was referring to all schools that have become sponsored academies since May 2010. The Secretary of State was not saying that 1000 schools had all received an improved Ofsted rating since becoming a sponsored academy.

I appreciate that this was a complex matter and that we could have provided clearer and more helpful advice earlier on. However, we have now given as much explanation of the information released as we are able to. I hope that this has clarified the matter further for you.

Your correspondence has been allocated reference number 2016-0003381. If you need to respond to us, please visit: https://www.education.gov.uk/contactus and quote your reference number.

Yours sincerely

Nathan Hug 

Web: https://www.education.gov.uk<https://www.education.gov.uk/>
Twitter: https://www.twitter.com/educationgovuk
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/educationgovuk

[https://www.education.gov.uk/images2/iri...

show quoted sections

J Downs left an annotation ()

I have written about this here. http://www.localschoolsnetwork.org.uk/20...