Equality Impact Assessment for history curriculum

The request was successful.

Katherine Edwards

Dear Department for Education,

I would like to make a request under the Freedom of Information Act for all information held by the Department for Education demonstrating how the Department assessed the compliance of the draft National Curriculum for History with the DfE's public sector equality duty, such as an Equality Impact Assessment.

Yours faithfully,

Katherine Edwards

Department for Education

Dear Ms Edwards

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 2013/0033419.

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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Department for Education

Dear Ms Edwards,
Thank you for your request for information, which was received on 23 May
2013, about how the DfE assessed the compliance of the draft national
curriculum for history with the DfE's public sector equality duty.  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 35
of the Act (Formulation of Government policy).  

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 the exemption 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 20
working 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
12 July.   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 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. 

Your correspondence has been allocated reference number 2013/0033419. If
you need to respond to us, please visit:
[1]www.education.gov.uk/contactus, and quote your reference number.

Yours sincerely,

Felix Blackburn
National Curriculum Review Division
[email address]
[2]www.education.gov.uk

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Katherine Edwards

Dear Department for Education,

Requesting another 20 working days to decide where 'the balance of the public interest' lies with regard to withholding or releasing information about how and whether you took into account your public sector equality duty in drawing up the history curriculum, further confirms the pattern of delay and evasion for which you as a department have become notorious.

The draft history curriculum has been widely criticised by prominent historians, teachers and public bodies for its potentially negative impact on protected groups such as non-white ethnic groups, Muslims and women. Only this week over 100 historians and history teachers wrote an open letter to the Independent making this point (among others). Education is an area of such powerful cultural impact that there can be no doubt that the public interest is best served by an informed debate about whether government is complying with its legal equality duties in its formulation of education policy.

I intend to raise these issues with the Information Commissioner.

Yours faithfully,

Katherine Edwards

Department for Education

Dear Ms Edwards,
 
I emailed you on 14 June in response to your request for information about how the DfE assessed the
compliance of the draft national curriculum for history with the DfE's public sector equality duty.  In my
email, I explained that the DfE would consider whether some or all of the information you requested is exempt
from disclosure under Section 35 of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (“the Act”).  I am now in a position
to give you a full response.

As you may be aware, the Department published on 8 July its response to the consultation carried out on the
proposed new national curriculum earlier this year, and revised programmes of study for all subjects
including history.  This information is available on our website at
[1]www.education.gov.uk/nationalcurriculum. As part of that announcement we also published an equalities
impact assessment, which covers all subjects including history. The impact assessment can be accessed on the
DfE website at:
[2]www.education.gov.uk/consultations/downloadableDocs/Equalities%20impact%20assessment%20-%20FINAL%20v3.pdf.

The Department also holds additional information which falls within the scope of your request, in the form of
internal exchanges about the issues addressed in the equalities impact assessment. This information is being
withheld because the exemption under Section 35(1) (a) of the Act applies.  Section 35(1) covers information
which relates to the formulation or development of government policy. 

In applying Section 35(1) (a), the Act requires that the Department balances the public interest in
withholding the information against the public interest in disclosing the information.  I have set out below
the particular factors which the Department considered when deciding where the public interest lay.

There is a general public interest in disclosure.  Knowledge of the way government works increases if the
information on which decisions have been made is available. This can lead to the public contribution to the
policy-making process becoming more effective.  There is a general public interest in being able to see if
Ministers are being briefed effectively on the key areas of policy the Department is taking forward. 

Conversely, it is in the public interest that the formulation of government policy and government
decision-making is based on the best advice available and a full consideration of the options.  That can
require that such consideration can proceed in a self-contained space.  Without protecting the thinking space
and the ability for Ministers and senior officials to receive free and frank advice, there is likely to be a
corrosive effect on the conduct of good government, with a risk that decision-making will become poorer and
will be recorded inadequately. 

In this particular case, the published equalities impact assessment sets out clearly the issues that were
considered in relation to the Department’s compliance with the public sector equality duty.  Release of
internal exchanges relating to the drafting of that document would add little to the public understanding of
the issues but would compromise the quality of the policy-making process in the future, for the reasons set
out above.  It is therefore the Department's view that the public interest in non-disclosure of the
additional information that we hold outweighs the public interest in disclosure in this case. 

Your correspondence has been allocated reference number 2013/0033419.  If you need to respond to us, please
visit: [3]www.education.gov.uk/contactus, and quote your reference number.

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,

Felix Blackburn
National Curriculum Review Division
[email address]
[4]www.education.gov.uk

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References

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2. http://www.education.gov.uk/consultation...
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4. http://www.education.gov.uk/

Katherine Edwards

Dear Department for Education,

I welcome the fact that you took into consideration the responses to the consultation on the draft curriculum made by equalities organisations. I am pleased that this contributed to the very substantial rewriting of the history curriculum which took place between February and July.

However, highlighting this to me now does not answer my original request. I still do not accept your public interest justification for withholding information about how you dealt with your public sector equality duty when drafting the original history curriculum (the February version). Questions have also been raised about your compliance with this duty with regard to free schools and the public interest would be served by an informed debate on whether the DfE takes its public sector equality duty seriously. This why I am now requesting an internal review. The response to my request seems to suggest that the DfE only takes account of equalities issues when under serious public pressure.

Yours faithfully,

Katherine Edwards

Department for Education

1 Attachment

Dear Ms Edwards,
I am writing to inform you that the Department has now completed its internal appeal process following your complaint of 16 July
2013.

The Department has made an independent re-assessment of the case, chaired by a senior officer who was not involved with the original
request, and has decided that while some of the information cannot be disclosed for the reasons as set out in the letter of 11 July
2013, some information can be released. A copy of the information which can be disclosed is attached. 

The national curriculum review consultation document is in the scope of your request, as it included a specific question about
equalities.  This can be downloaded from the DfE website at:
[1]https://www.education.gov.uk/consultatio....

The Department does take seriously its duties under the Equality Act. This has been demonstrated in our publication of the equality
impact assessment of the curriculum review which can be accessed at:
[2]www.education.gov.uk/consultations/downloadableDocs/Equalities%20impact%20assessment%20-%20FINAL%20v3.pdf.

In order to inform the equality impact assessment there has been significant engagement with a wide range of stakeholders through the
national curriculum review process, and equalities issues have been explicitly raised. The documents that we consider can be released
– an internal email from an official within the National Curriculum Review Division to colleagues, and an extract from email from an
official within this division to the Department’s Advisory Committee on the national curriculum review - illustrate this process,
showing that we asked those who contributed to the development of the review and programmes of study to take account of any equality
issues they felt were involved.  Some information in both emails has been redacted as it is not in scope of your request.        

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
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 a government department or agency (The Department for Education) will be protected by Crown Copyright.
Most Crown copyright information can be re-used under the Open Government Licence
([3]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
-[4]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 [5]www.ipo.gov.uk.

If you are unhappy with the decision to withhold part of the information sought, you have the right to appeal directly to the
Information Commissioner. The Information Commissioner can be contacted at:

            Information Commissioner’s Office
            Wycliffe House
            Water Lane
            Wilmslow
            Cheshire
            SK9 5AF

If the Commissioner comes to the conclusion that that the information should be released, he will issue an enforcement notice which
will set out the steps which the Department must take and the date by which they must be taken.

If you have any queries about this letter, please contact me. Please remember to quote our reference number in any future
communications. 
Your correspondence has been allocated reference number 2013/0045250. If you need to respond to us, please visit:
[6]www.education.gov.uk/contactus, and quote your reference number.

Yours sincerely,

Felix Blackburn
National Curriculum Review Division
[email address]
[7]www.education.gov.uk

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

References

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6. http://www.education.gov.uk/contactus
7. http://www.education.gov.uk/

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