School governance

Mr Andrews made this Freedom of Information request to Department for Children, Schools and Families

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 refused by Department for Children, Schools and Families.

Dear Sir or Madam,

Please can you provide the following information on the DCSF's function as the avenue of appeal, resulting from the decisions of a school Governing body.

On how many occasions in the following years,

2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009 have the DCSF's taken action against the decision of a school governing body?

An example would be, where a school governing body has reached a decision and the parent has appealed to the DCSF in relation to this decision.

Please provide the details of all complaints made to the DSCF in relation to Governing body decisions for the last 10 yrs.

Yours faithfully,

Mr Andrews

Department for Children, Schools and Families

Dear Mr Andrews

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
2009/0098019.

Thank you.

Central Allocation Team

Public Communications Team

Tel: 0870 0002288
www.dcsf.gov.uk

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Department for Children, Schools and Families

Dear Mr Andrews

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
2009/0098019.

Thank you.

Central Allocation Team

Public Communications Team

Tel: 0870 0002288
www.dcsf.gov.uk

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Department for Children, Schools and Families

Dear Mr Andrews

Thank you for your email of 18 November, requesting information under the
Freedom of Information Act 2000 ("the Act") in relation to complaints
against school governing bodies.

The Department holds the information you have requested. However, the
Department estimates that the cost of complying with your request would
exceed the cost threshold applicable to central Government. This is
-L-600 and represents the estimated cost of one person spending 3 1/2
working days locating, retrieving and extracting the information.

I have considered ways in which your request might be narrowed or limited
in order to reduce the cost of complying with it. However, due to the way
in which the information is held I do not consider that the Department
would be able to provide the information you have requested without
exceeding the cost limit.

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

Karen McGarry
School Governance Unit
[email address]
[1]www.dcsf.gov.uk

Your correspondence has been allocated the reference number 2009/0098019.

show quoted sections

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

References

Visible links
1. http://www.dcsf.gov.uk/

Dear Department for Children, Schools and Families,

Please pass this on to the person who conducts Freedom of Information reviews.

I am writing to request an internal review of Department for Children, Schools and Families's handling of my FOI request 'School governance'.

If providing all the information for the past 10 years is expected to cost £600, then I suggest that the DCSF provide the last 5 years. I would expect this will fall within an acceptable cost threshold.

Further I believe the nature of the FOI Act is such that the DSCF establishes a publication scheme in relation to it's activities. To provide details of outcomes in relation to the area of school governence should be one such area which should be included in such a scheme. This way of course the DCSF would save itself unnecessary expense from repeat requests of the same nature.

I do not believe it is appropriate to simpy refuse on the basis of costs which you have not adequately described. If it would take 3.5 days for a staff member to respond to such a simple request I would suggest the DCSF file systems are inadequate and not fit for purpose.

A full history of my FOI request and all correspondence is available on the Internet at this address:
http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/sc...

Yours faithfully,

Mr Andrews

Department for Children, Schools and Families

Dear Mr Andrews,

Thank you for your recent email. A reply will be sent to you as soon as possible (where a response is required). For information, the departmental standard for correspondence received is that responses should be sent within 15 working days or 20 working days if you are requesting information under the Freedom of Information Act 2000.

Your correspondence has been allocated the reference number 2009/0102965

Thank you.

Central Allocation Team

Public Communications Team

Tel: 0870 0002288
www.dcsf.gov.uk

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Department for Children, Schools and Families

Dear Mr Andrews

Thank you for your email of 7 December asking for an internal review of
your earlier Freedom of Information request, where you requested details
about complaints against governing bodies.

The Department has now completed its internal review process and has
carried out a thorough review of the case, chaired by a senior officer who
was not involved with the original request. The Department has decided to
uphold the original decision not to disclose the information concerned,
for the same reasons set out in my email of 7 December, in that to provide
a response would exceed the cost threshold of -L-600. I have set out
below why producing a response would exceed the cost threshold.

The information you requested is not held by this Department in the form
requested. This is because our correspondence database does not contain a
category for complaints against schools and although it contains 1,818
pieces of correspondence (recorded since 2006 when the database first came
into existence) which have been classified as complaints against the
Department, it does not differentiate between types or subject of
complaint, nor does it take account of more than one letter relating to
the same complaint. I should explain that the "complaints (policy)"
category is for letters expressing dissatisfaction with departmental
policy. As such, it should not include letters complaining about third
party organisations, such as schools.

Letters complaining about schools would be classed as general
correspondence and categorised by subject - examples could include
bullying, admissions and so on. Establishing which of these was a
complaint would involve approaching each policy team within the
Department, who would have to search for cases and review each piece of
correspondence individually. When cases are identified, we would have to
manually search through the related paper records to determine whether
the Secretary of State has made a direction under 496 or 497 of the
Education Act.

As you will be aware, the FOI Act recognises that dealing with some
wide-ranging requests can incur significant resource and cost. There is a
threshold cost set at -L-600 for central government (-L-450 for other
public bodies). This applies only when the estimated cost of complying
with a request exceeds this cost. A standard hourly rate of -L-25 is the
general cost used by all public bodies when calculating the cost of staff
time regardless of actual costs or grades involved. This equates to one
person incurring 3 and a half days work. Given the numbers involved, to
review each piece of correspondence as identified above would certainly
breach the FOI cost threshold.

I realise that this decision will be disappointing to you, but I hope that
it explains how the Department holds correspondence records and why it
believes that to provide the information that you have requested would
breach the cost threshold.

If you are unhappy with this decision, you have the right to appeal
directly to the Information Commissioner. The Information Commissioner can
be contacted at:

The Case Reception Unit

Customer Service Team

Information Commissioner's Office

Wycliffe House

Water Lane

Wilmslow

Cheshire
SK9 5AF

Further information about the Information Commissioner's complaints
procedure can be found on the Information Commissioner's Office website:
[1]http://www.ico.gov.uk/complaints/freedom...
Yours sincerely

Karen McGarry
School Governance Unit
[email address]
[2]www.dcsf.gov.uk

Your correspondence has been allocated the reference number 2009/0102965.

show quoted sections

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

References

Visible links
1. http://www.ico.gov.uk/complaints/freedom...
http://www.ico.gov.uk/complaints/freedom...
2. http://www.dcsf.gov.uk/

Feargal Hogan left an annotation ()

The original question was to list the instances when "the DCSF's taken action against the decision of a school governing body?"

If the DCSF ever takes such action, it really ought to be logged in a file somewhere and should not cost more than £600 to extract and publish. This response and internal review just says to me that the DCSF - like the Home Office before it - is not fit for purpose!

Anne Jago left an annotation ()

I too believe that the DCSF is not fit for purpose.

Two of my governors wrote to the Department complaining about the failure of Kent County Council to advise them correctly. The issue related to the safety of pupils on school trips. Department officials did not want to hear any criticism of KCC so they simply buried their heads in the sand and refused to read the emails.

Parents from my school delivered a petition to the Department with over a 1000 signatures on it – the petition also related to the safety of pupils on school trips. The Department said on television that they took the petition very seriously indeed – the next day they put it in a file marked “no action”. The Department did not want to hear any criticism of KCC.

My experience is that in the last resort Department officials will just lie.

Mr Andrews left an annotation ()

I will of course be referring the matter to the ICO, i too feel the response is unsatisfactory.

Thank you for those adding their voice of support.

Mr Andrews