Information Regarding the Breach Of Law (EA2002 s.20 (5) ) by Thomas Coram Centre

John Petters made this Freedom of Information request to Camden Borough Council

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 Camden Borough Council,
Freedom of Information Request

The Thomas Coram Centre (TCC) has been operating in breach of the Education Act 2002, Section 20, paragraph 5, because it has been using a name other than that on its Instrument of Government. A complaint was made to the Department for Education and there has been correspondence from the TCC and the London Borough of Camden to the Department for Education.

Camden said in a reply to a FOIR,

“Thanks you for your e-mail of 24th August, the contents of which I note. I apologise for the delay in responding to you and for any confusion that our previous e-mail may have caused, however in order to assist you we needed to liaise with other local authority departments.

To clarify, the Instrument of Government supplied in response to your Freedom of Information request is correct in so far as the name of the school is the Thomas Coram Centre.

You are correct that the DfE, Ofsted and Camden web-sites still refer to the school as the Thomas Coram Early Education Centre, as this was the name prior to 2003. Although there is no statutory notification requirement to do so, the local authority will make arrangements to ensure that the change of name is notified as soon as possible and take steps to rectify our own web-site details.

Whilst they would all refer to the Thomas Coram Centre, it may be that the different names / titles on correspondence and procedures exist due to historic naming conventions.

It should be noted however that implementation and naming of policies and procedures are the schools responsibility as they are data controllers in their own right”.

Bernadette Duffy OBE, the head of Centre, said, in reply to another FOIR,

“The School Governance (constitution) (England) Regulations 2003 required that the first instrument of government for a nursery school be made by the relevant local authority. The instrument was signed by the authority in Sept 2003 as required by regulation and set out the name the name of the school and name of governing body. This has been provided in response to question (a) above.

Since 2003 the school name has been The Thomas Coram Centre”.

The Department for Education stated,

“Thank you for your email of 26 August 2011 about the Thomas Coram Early Childhood Centre. I have been asked to reply.

I hope you will appreciate that the Department are not able to offer legal advice, however a number of observations follow which I hope you will find useful. According to information supplied by the local authority both to the Directgov and to the Edubase websites, there is a maintained nursery school named Thomas Coram Early Childhood Centre in the London Borough of Camden. It would appear that it is using its powers to provide extended services (under section 27 of the Education Act 2002) to operate additionally as a Sure Start Children's Centre. Section 27 enables maintained schools to operate such provision on behalf of local authorities.

On the question of the name of the school, section 20(5) of the Education Act 2002 says that the governing body of a maintained school shall not conduct the business of the school under a name other than the one for the time being set out in the schools instrument of government.

Under regulation 31 of the School Governance (Constitution) (England) Regulations 2007, the governing body is responsible for preparing the instrument which sets out various details about the school and the make up of its governing body and it would send this to the local authority who would check that it complies with "all applicable statutory provisions" (that should include whether the name is correct) before the local authority "makes" the instrument, at which point it becomes a legal document. It would therefore be for the school's governing body to explain any name being used by them in relation to the school's business, if this appears to be different to that on the current instrument of government.

I hope this information is helpful.

Yours sincerely
Redacted
Public Communications Unit
www.education.gov.uk

The DFE also said,
“Thank you for your email below.
I wrote to the Chair of Governors on 17 October requesting sight of the
current Instrument of Government for Thomas Coram.
I have not yet received a response and will issue a reminder, however,
it is not likely that we will be able to provide any comments in time
for the hearing on redacted.
Thank you.

Redacted
School Governance Team
Redacted”.

The School Governance Team at the DFE have stated they have received two communications from LB Camden and the Thomas Coram Centre and or its Governing Body.
Please provide
1 Copies of any communications whether by letter, e-mail, fax and any memos, notes of telephone calls and or drafts sent from London Borough of Camden and/or Thomas Coram Centre to the Department For Education (DFE) and
2 Copies of any letters e-mails, letters memos,notes of telephone calls, faxes or communications from the DFE to London Borough of Camden and Thomas Coram Centre and or its Governing Body.

Yours faithfully,

John Petters

Dear Camden Borough Council,

For clarity, I am seeking correspondence as set out in my request relating to communications cited in the request relating to the breach of EA2002 and not other communications on other subjects between the DFE, Camden and TCC

Yours faithfully,

John Petters

CSF Freedom of Information, Camden Borough Council

Dear Mr Petters

 

Thank you for your request for information received by the local authority
on 6th February.

 

Your request will be processed under the Freedom of Information Act 2000
and we will respond within the statutory timescales of 20 working days.

 

Regards

 

Children Schools and Families Freedom of Information

London Borough of Camden

Telephone:     020 7974 2850

Web:              camden.gov.uk 

Email:            [1][email address]

References

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Dear CSF Freedom of Information,
Would you please explain why you have failed to provide this information on time as required by the law?

I expect this to be provided by close of business on Monday 5th March, time being of the essence.

Yours sincerely,

John Petters

CSF Freedom of Information, Camden Borough Council

8 Attachments

Dear Mr. Petters

 

Day one of the timescale for response commences on the next working day
following the date of receipt as per Section 10(1).

 

The receipt date would therefore be the first working day upon which the
request was received and day 1 of the Freedom of Information Act timescale
commences on the next working day.

 

Your request dated Sunday 5^th February was received by the Local
Authority on Monday 6^th February and is due today; 5^th March 2012.

 

Please see our response and accompanying documents attached.

 

Regards

 

Children Schools and Families Freedom of Information
London Borough of Camden
Telephone:     020 7974 2850
Web:              camden.gov.uk  
Email:            [1][email address]

 

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