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

John Petters 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,
Freedom of Information Request
The Thomas Coram Centre (TCC, London, WC1 N2NY 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

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

“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
Public Communications Unit

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

School Governance Team

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)related to this matter 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 related to this matter.

Yours faithfully,

John Petters

Department for Education

Dear Mr Petters

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

Thank you
Department for Education
Public Communications Unit
Tel: 0370 000 2288

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Department for Education

3 Attachments

Dear Mr Petters,
Thank you for your email dated 5 February 2012 in which you requested 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) related to this matter 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 related to this matter.  I have dealt with
your request under the Freedom of Information Act 2000.

A copy of the information is enclosed.


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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
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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,

Penny Jones

Deputy Director

Independent Education and School Governance

Your correspondence has been allocated the reference number 2012/0008859.

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