FoI requesters strike an early success for data hunters

One of the more satisfying things – for me, anyway –  about this blog has been watching the number of people viewing ‘FOI Friday‘ grow each week.

I’ve long suspected that there’s a sizeable band of journalists who see one story and ask themselves what the FOI request is that will take the story on.

And that appears to have been the case with the recent story about academies. One of the Conservatives’ early education announcements has been to give schools the power to become academies. The benefits of doing this appear a bit vague at the moment, but apparently there has been a lot of expressons of interests from schools in the last month.

And today, details of an email sent out by the Government to the schools which had expressed interest was revealed, according to the Press Association:

An email sent by the department to outstanding schools that have applied for academy freedoms said the DfE is releasing the information after being asked for it under Freedom of Information (FoI) laws.

It said: “The DfE has received a number of requests, under the Freedom of Information Act 2000, to release a list of schools who have registered an interest in becoming an academy.

“In accordance with the provisions of this Act, the Department intends to publish on Friday June 25 on the Department’s website the list of schools who have registered an interest with us.”

In other words, an until now secretive process has been opened up thanks to early FOI requests, many of which I suspect will have come from journalists as well as parent groups.

The information, out on Friday, may well come as a surprise to many parents if schools have kept their interest a secret – but it’s proof of the value of FOI in the quest for current affairs data.

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