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Information relating to Section 162 of the education act

Georgina made this Freedom of Information request to Department for Education

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Dear Department for Education,

Section 162 of the Education Act 2002 requires independent schools to gain approval from the Secretary of State before making certain specific changes, known as ‘material changes’. The definition of ‘material changes’ include a change of proprietor. There is clearly a public interest in the outcome of any such application and so too in the rigour of the process for submitting and assessing such an application.

1. Would you please provide any DfE guidance on ‘material’ changes, the application process, and assessment considerations.
2. Assuming the risk to the welfare, health and safety of children could increase when a change of proprietor arises through the transfer of a registered school from one entity to another
a. is any differentiation made in this process when the change of proprietor arises because a school is to be transferred to another operator, such as a private company?
b. is any consideration given to whether the new operator has experience of running a UK school?
c. is any consideration given to the new operator’s purpose, aims, ethos and development plans for the school?
3. What consideration is made in respect of inspecting a school (sold to a new operator) and in this consideration is any account taken of sources of risk, arising from the transfer?

Yours faithfully,

Georgina Stephenson

Department for Education

Dear Ms Stephenson

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 2014/0076490.

Thank you

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

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Department for Education

Dear Ms Stephenson,
Thank you for your request for information which was received on 3 December 2014. You
requested -

“1.   Would you please provide any DfE guidance on ‘material’ changes, the application
process, and assessment considerations.

 2.   Assuming the risk to the welfare, health and safety of children could increase when a
change of proprietor arises through the transfer of a registered school from one entity to
another

a.   is any differentiation made in this process when the change of proprietor arises
because a school is to be transferred to another operator, such as a private company? 

b.   is any consideration given to whether the new operator has experience of running a UK
school?

c.   is any consideration given to the new operator’s purpose, aims, ethos and development
plans for the school?

 3.   What consideration is made in respect of inspecting a school (sold to a new operator)
and in this consideration is any account taken of sources of risk, arising from the
transfer?”

I have dealt with your request under Freedom of Information Act 2000.

Attached is the link to the guidance document the department issues to proprietors about
material changes - [1]material changes guidance

For a material change request involving a change of proprietor, the department checks the
suitability of the proprietor as laid down in The Education (Independent School Standards)
(England ) Regulations 2012 Part 4 paragraph 21. If any concerns are raised about the
suitability of the proprietor further checks may be undertaken, into an individual’s
criminal background, identity or right to work in the UK.

All material change requests are treated the same regardless of the whether the request is
from a sole trader or a private company.  Independent School proprietors operate in a free
market so consideration is not given to the previous experience or ability of the new
proprietor, nor are they required to provide details of how they intend to operate.  They
must however make sure that the independent school standards are met.

If at any time outside the regular inspection cycle concerns are raised that an independent
school may not be meeting the regulatory standards the department can commission an
emergency inspection. New independent school legislation due to come into force in early
2015 will introduce new emergency closure powers[2][1]. These powers will enable the
department to move swiftly if it appears that any pupil at the school is suffering or is
likely to suffer significant harm. In such circumstances the department may request an order
to remove the school from the register and the school will not be able to continue to
operate pending the outcome of an appeal.

The new legislation will also introduce a standard on Leadership and Management, which will
give us additional powers to take action where a school’s leadership raises concerns.

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 a government department or agency 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 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. 
Your correspondence has been allocated reference number 2014/0076490. If you need to respond
to us, please visit: [6]www.education.gov.uk/contactus, and quote your reference number.

Yours sincerely,

Gillian Clark
Independent Education and School Governance
[email address]
[7]www.gov.uk/dfe

[8][1] [9]http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2008...

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References

Visible links
1. file:///C:/Users/gclark/AppData/Local/Microsoft/Windows/Temporary%20Internet%20Files/Content.Outlook/W2H4VRBC/materialchangeguidancemay2012.doc
2. file:///rchs/RespondToCorrespondence.aspx?sn=SHEECHOAPP01,3939505,82&CaseCode=8fe4aaf3-e0cc-4ef9-9649-76fc11378e11&ResponseCode=0d994e5c-2297-451f-b970-edc21d2626d5#_ftn1
3. http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/doc/o...
blocked::http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/doc/o...
http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/doc/o...
4. http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/infor...
blocked::http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/infor...
http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/infor...
5. http://www.ipo.gov.uk/
blocked::http://www.ipo.gov.uk/
http://www.ipo.gov.uk/
6. http://www.education.gov.uk/contactus
7. http://www.gov.uk/dfe
8. file:///rchs/RespondToCorrespondence.aspx?sn=SHEECHOAPP01,3939505,82&CaseCode=8fe4aaf3-e0cc-4ef9-9649-76fc11378e11&ResponseCode=0d994e5c-2297-451f-b970-edc21d2626d5#_ftnref1
9. http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2008...

Dear Department for Education,

Thank you for your reply explaining that for a material change request involving a change of proprietor, the department checks the suitability of the proprietor as laid down in The Education (Independent School Standards) (England ) Regulations 2012 Part 4 paragraph 21.

Thank you also for providing the papers I requested concerning the change of registered proprietor of Bearwood College. The papers attached to your reply gave the background to a confirmation, on 28 August 2014, thatMr Mark Joseph in his capacity as Chair of Reddam House (Berkshire) Ltdwas approved as proprietor of the school.

However, having checked on the Companies House web site, I see that Mark Joseph only became a director of Reddam House (Berkshire) Ltd on 16 October 2014. This was two months after you confirming that he was proprietor in his capacity as chairman of Reddam House (Berkshire) Ltd.

During the period 1 September 2014 to 16 October 2014, was Reddam House (Berkshire) Ltd or Mr Joseph, as an individual, the proprietor of the school?

I note you state that "independent school proprietors operate in a free market so consideration is not given to the
previous experience or ability of the new proprietor, nor are they required to provide details of how they intend to operate". Instead, you state that "They must however make sure that the independent school standards are met."

In the context of the Standards, I note that The Education (Independent School Standards) Regulations 2014, Part 6, paragraph 32(2)(b) (ii) requires the provision, to parents of pupils and parents of prospective pupils, "where the proprietor is a body of persons, of the address and telephone number of its registered or principal office".

This information is not shown on the Bearwood College web site at http://www.bearwoodcollege.co.uk/contact... . Neither is there a "statement of the school’s ethos (including any religious ethos) and aims".

Would you please supply all correspondence between the DfE and Reddam House Berkshire Ltd and/or the school with respect to the proprietorship of the school and the need to ensure the registered or principal office address and telephone number of the proprietor (Mark Joseph as Chair of Reddam House (Berkshire) Ltd) is 'provided to' parents of pupils and parents of prospective pupils.

Yours faithfully,

Georgina

Department for Education

Dear Ms Stephenson

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 2015-0017815.

Thank you

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

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We don't know whether the most recent response to this request contains information or not – if you are Georgina please sign in and let everyone know.