Marion. The FOI exemption for schools.


We delivered some training today to a school in the north – we have a briefing for schools covering DP & FOI in a half day – and as usual prior to the training we did some research which included making a FOI request to the school. Right at the very end of the afternoon after the case studies and the questions the trainer asked if the school had received any FOI requests in the last 7 years. The head teacher sitting bravely on the front row shook his head. Others chimed in and consensus was milliseconds away when the trainer showed on the screen the screen grab of the request that had been made by email 19 days ago using the school’s contact us page.

Silence and almost simultaneously darkness fell.

‘Looks like a request to me” intoned the trainer, “it’s asked for a biography of the Headteacher and details of his reimbursement package for the last financial year”.

Then Marion the school secretary who’d been sitting at the back spoke. “I might have seen that one” she chirped, ” but I delete anything that looks dodgy”.

“What’s dodgy?” ventured the trainer,

“The name, the email address – I don’t allow hotmail ever”, replied the determined administrator.

The trainer tested out a few requests that he knew had been sent to schools in general – the knife incident request, “deleted that” , The CRB question, “deleted that” and the realisation that Marion had set up a foiwall that had yet to be penetrated settled on the room.

Add in the lack of publication scheme, lack of privacy policy and lack of training and it’s clear there’s a lot of work to do in schools. We have a range of services from an online session to a full day in school with audit, policy work & training. See our website.

Marion is of course a pseudonym. Her real name was Margery.

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