DfE official visit to Oasis Isle of Sheppey

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 partially successful.

Dear Department for Education,

The Times (5 July 2014) published an article about Oasis Isle of Sheppey. It claimed "Department for Education officials" visited the academy in November 2013.

I should be grateful if you could let me know:

1 The date and purpose of the visit;
2 The names and job titles of the officials;
3 Any reports or other correspondence published or sent to the head following the visit.

Yours faithfully,

J Downs

Department for Education

Dear J Down

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 2014/0047946.

Thank you

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

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=?utf-8?Q?academyquestions=C2=A0_ ?=, Department for Education

1 Attachment

Please find attached a letter concerning your recent request for
information.

Thanks

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

Dear Ms Griffiths

Thank you for your reply to my FoI request asking for details of a DfE official visit to Oasis Isle of Sheppey. You say you have the information required but it is still being assessed to judge whether its release is in the public interest.

I am surprised by this because comments made by the DfE officials were made public in The Times on 5 July 2014. The article, headed "Young head is charged with turning round the worst school in England"said the head, David Millar, told DfE officials, who visited the school in November 2013, that the visit was "their worst ever" and there were "high levels of inadequate teaching".

This contradicts the view of an official Ofsted monitoring visit in July 2013 when the previous head was still at the school. Inspectors noted the school still had a long way to go from "Requires Improvement" but wrote:

"There is considerable enthusiasm for the business of teaching in the academy... The quality of individual teachers’ teaching and the extent to which each are promoting their students’ progress is carefully monitored. The evidence that this is an improving picture is very credible."

It is, therefore, important that the report of the DfE officials is made public. Mr Millar's remarks to a national newspaper cannot be verified unless the report is published. It is also important to know the qualifications of the DfE officials and whether they were qualified to make judgements about the quality of teaching.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Yours sincerely,

J Downs

Department for Education

Thank you for your message. This is an automated reply to confirm that we have received your enquiry and are working on a response.

Please do not reply to this message.

Kind Regards

Academies Enquiry Service
Education Funding Agency

Web: www.gov.uk/efa<http://www.gov.uk/efa>
Twitter: @educationgovuk<http://www.twitter.com/educationgovuk>
Facebook: www.facebook.com/educationgovuk<http://www.facebook.com/educationgovuk>

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=?utf-8?Q?academyquestions=C2=A0_ ?=, Department for Education

1 Attachment

Please find attached the response to your request for information.

Regards

Marie

 

------------------- Original Message

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Dear =?utf-8?Q?academyquestions=C2=A0_ ?=,

Thank you for your reply. Your argument is that comments between DfE advisers and schools should be kept confidential to encourage the giving of frank advice.

However, in this case the head of Oasis Isle of Sheppey broke confidentiality and quoted the adviser in a speech made at a Future Leaders conference. This was, in turn, published by The Times.

In the circumstances I would ask you to think again about revealing the contents of the adviser's note so the quote can be verified. I am, therefore, requesting an internal review.

I understand that DfE officials may be inhibited if they thought their frank views would be published. It might be advisable, then, to remind heads and others not to make comments public.

Yours sincerely,

J Downs

Department for Education

Thank you for your message. This is an automated reply to confirm that we have received your enquiry and are working on a response.

Please do not reply to this message.

Kind Regards

Academies Enquiry Service
Education Funding Agency

Web: www.gov.uk/efa<http://www.gov.uk/efa>
Twitter: @educationgovuk<http://www.twitter.com/educationgovuk>
Facebook: www.facebook.com/educationgovuk<http://www.facebook.com/educationgovuk>

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Dear Department for Education,

SECOND REQUEST FOR AN INTERNAL REVIEW

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

I am writing for a second time to request an internal review of Department for Education's handling of my FOI request 'DfE official visit to Oasis Isle of Sheppey'.

On 6 July 2014 I made a Freedom of Information request to the Department for Education to release details of a visit made by DfE officials to Oasis Isle of Sheppey academy in December 2013.

On 4 August I was told the request would require an additional 20 days to assess where ‘the balance of public interest lies’.

On 18 August I received a reply. It acknowledged there was a ‘general public interest’ in revealing the requested information but details of the visit would still remain confidential because disclosing the information would make it difficult for DfE officials to be frank when visiting academies.

I replied on the same day arguing that the facts had already been made public because the head had quoted comments made during the allegedly confidential DfE visit at a conference. The remarks had been published in the Times. I argued that in these circumstances the DfE should release notes made by DfE officials so the veracity of the head’s comments could be checked. Confidentiality had already been compromised.

I requested an internal review and received an automated reply the same day.

It is now the end of November and I have heard nothing further.

I should be grateful, therefore, if you could undertake an internal review immediately as it is more than three months since I heard from you.

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

=?utf-8?Q?academyquestions=C2=A0_ ?=, Department for Education

Dear Mrs Downs,

We are currently dealing with your request. Due to the holiday period we
will respond to you no later than 9th January with a decision.

 

Kind regards

Louise Hemsley

 

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Department for Education

3 Attachments

Dear Mrs Downs,
Thank you for your email requesting an internal review. Please find a
response attached.
Your correspondence has been allocated reference number 2014/0076236. If
you need to respond to us, please visit:
[1]www.education.gov.uk/contactus, and quote your reference number.

Yours sincerely,

James Straughan
EFA Academies and Maintained Schools
[2][email address]
[3]www.gov.uk/dfe

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