Review of the conditions at Baverstock Academy, the estimated cost of complete closure and correspondence with prospective sponsor

Felix 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,

I am writing to request the following information:

1. The Department's and/or the Regional Schools Commissioner's review of the conditions at Baverstock Academy, in Birmingham, carried out prior to the announcement of the school's recent closure.

2. The Department's and/or the Regional Schools Commissioner's estimated cost of complete school closure of Baverstock Academy, in Birmingham, carried out prior to the announcement of the school's recent closure.

3. A copy of all the Department's and/or the Regional Schools Commissioner's correspondence with the sponsor which made an offer to take over Baverstock Academy in Birmingham. For clarity, I am not seeking any identifiable details of the sponsor, but instead, an anonymised record of all the correspondence with the sponsor.

Yours faithfully,

Felix Mann

ACCOUNT, Unmonitored, Department for Education

 

 

Dear Felix Mann

 

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 2017-0019556

 

Thank you

 

Department for Education

Ministerial and Public Communications Division

Tel: 0370 000 2288

 

 

ACCOUNT, Unmonitored, Department for Education

Dear Mr Mann,

 

Thank you for your request for information, which was received on 4 April
2017. I am dealing with your request under the Freedom of Information Act
2000. You requested:

 

1. The Department's and/or the Regional Schools Commissioner's review of
the conditions at Baverstock Academy, in Birmingham, carried out prior to
the announcement of the school's recent closure.

 

2. The Department's and/or the Regional Schools Commissioner's estimated
cost of complete school closure of Baverstock Academy, in Birmingham,
carried out prior to the announcement of the school's recent closure.

 

3. A copy of all the Department's and/or the Regional Schools
Commissioner's correspondence with the sponsor which made an offer to take
over Baverstock Academy in Birmingham. For clarity, I am not seeking any
identifiable details of the sponsor, but instead, an anonymised record of
all the correspondence with the sponsor.

 

The Department holds the information you have requested.  However, I
consider that the following exemption applies to your request:

 

Section 43: Commercial Interests

 

Section 43(2) exempts information, disclosure of which would be likely to
prejudice the commercial interests of any person.

 

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 one of the exemptions 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 15
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 2 June 2017. 
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 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, which 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,

 

Matthew Simmonite
Academies Regional Delivery Group, Birmingham Team

 

Web: [1]https://www.education.gov.uk
Twitter: [2]https://www.twitter.com/educationgovuk
Facebook: [3]https://www.facebook.com/educationgovuk

 

References

Visible links
1. https://www.education.gov.uk/
2. https://www.twitter.com/educationgovuk
3. https://www.facebook.com/educationgovuk

Dear Matthew Simmonite,

Thank you for providing an update.

I look forward to receiving the department's response in full by 2 June 2017.

Yours sincerely,

Felix

WAINWRIGHT, Gemma, Department for Education

1 Attachment

Dear Mr Mann

Please find attached the response to your Freedom of Information Request regarding Baverstock Academy.

Kind regards
Gemma

show quoted sections

ACCOUNT, Unmonitored, Department for Education

3 Attachments

Your ref:
 2017-0019556
  27 June 2017
 
Dear Mr Mann,

 

Thank you for your email dated 3 April 2017 about Baverstock Academy,
Birmingham. Now that the General Election has concluded we are able to
release some of the information you requested:

 

You requested the following:

 

1. The Department's and/or the Regional Schools Commissioner's review of
the conditions at Baverstock Academy, in Birmingham, carried out prior to
the announcement of the school's recent closure.

2. The Department's and/or the Regional Schools Commissioner's estimated
cost of complete school closure of Baverstock Academy, in Birmingham,
carried out prior to the announcement of the school's recent closure.

3. A copy of all the Department's and/or the Regional Schools
Commissioner's correspondence with the sponsor which made an offer to take
over Baverstock Academy in Birmingham. For clarity, I am not seeking any
identifiable details of the sponsor, but instead, an anonymised record of
all the correspondence with the sponsor.

 

I have dealt with your request under the Freedom of Information (FOI) Act
2000 (“the Act”).

 

The Department holds in scope your request that which can be released is
enclosed.  The remainder is being withheld under the following exemptions:

 

Section 36(2) of the Act exempts from disclosure information which, in the
reasonable opinion of a qualified person (a Minister in the case of
Government Departments):

 i)  would, or would be likely to, inhibit the free and frank provision of
advice – section 36(2)(b)(i); or

 ii)  would, or would be likely to, inhibit the free and frank exchange of
views for the purposes of deliberation – section 36(2)(b)(ii); or

 

In relation to your request, a Minister has decided that, in their
reasonable opinion, disclosure of some of this information is likely to
have this prejudicial effect and therefore the exemption in Section 36
applies.

 

 

Section 36 is a qualified exemption and a public interest test was carried
out. In doing so, the following factors were taken into consideration:

·       There is a strong public interest in Baverstock, particularly in
the locality, so releasing the information would satisfy the desire for
people in the local community to know more about how the closure decision
was formulated.

·       It is acknowledged that there is a general public interest in
disclosure because of the need for there to be open and transparent
government and that the sharing of information with the public should be
free and open. There would also be increased public understanding of
decision making.

* However, releasing the financial estimates of closure will jeopardise
future constructive conversations with sponsors about other academy
closure or rebrokerage cases, effectively limiting the Department’s
ability to secure value for money for the public purse. Each project
is unique so we would not want to provide a publicly available
baseline figure which other sponsors could use to argue their case for
funding support. As such, we have applied section 36(b) (i) and (ii)
because release would likely inhibit the free and frank provision of
advice and the free and frank exchange of views for the purpose of
deliberation.
* The “review of conditions” has been interpreted as the supporting
information included in Ministerial submissions relating to the future
of Baverstock academy. Releasing these documents in full could
prejudice and/or inhibit the free and frank provision of advice, the
free and frank exchange of views for the purpose of deliberation
(section 36(b) (i) and (ii)). This relates specifically to the process
by which officials present information to Ministers to support key
decisions. It is essential that Ministers and officials are allowed
space to develop their thinking and explore available options,
particularly on highly complex and sensitive subjects such as academy
closures.
* Releasing the full range of emails from the prospective sponsor could
prejudice the existing relationship with the Trust and its willingness
to engage in the free and frank exchange of views for future projects.
This disclosure could also prejudice the process for engaging other
sponsors, particularly on high profile / sensitive cases, as they may
be wary about their conversations and information being released into
the public domain, which could have a detrimental impact on their
organisation’s business and reputational profile. As such we have
applied Section: 36(2)(b)(ii) to particular emails – release would, or
would be likely to, inhibit the free and frank exchange of views for
the purposes of deliberation.

The arguments for and against release have been considered and it has been
decided that the balance of public interest falls in favour of the
maintenance of this exemption in relation to your request.

 

We have also applied section 40(2) (personal data), this is because the
information in question includes 3^rd party personal data.  Personal data
is that which relates to a living individual who can be identified from
that data, or from that data and other information which is likely to be
in, or to come into, the possession of the requestor.  Disclosure of this
information would contravene a number of the data protection principles in
the Data Protection Act 1998, and would be regarded as ‘unfair’.  By that,
we mean the likely expectations of the data subject that his or her
information would not be disclosed to others and the effect which
disclosure would have on the data subject.  Section 40(2) is an absolute
exemption and is not subject to the public interest test.

 

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,

 

Matthew Simmonite