FOI: A wrong is ‘righted’ when it comes to Academies

Big BenSome good news (at long last) from the Palace of Westminster when it comes to FOI.

There had been an assumption (including on here) that the rise in academies would result in more schools being exempt from the Freedom of Information Act. Until now, academies had been exempt.

However, via the letters page of the Guardian, the Government has sought to correct this assessment, insisting that all academies and even ‘free schools’ – the ones which can be run by parents who aren’t happy with school provision in their area – will also be covered:

The professors writing in your paper this week (Letters, 14 September) stated that free schools and academies will be not covered by freedom of information legislation. They are wrong. The Academies Act that passed into law in July extends FoI to all academies and free schools.

Jonathan Hill

Parliamentary undersecretary of state for schools (House of Lords)

Even though, the downside of a increase in the number of schools which no longer fall under local education authority control is that it will become harder to get information. Currently, many education reporters can use FOI effectively to receive data on schools via the LEA under the existing 20-day rule.  Schools can have up to 60 days if a school holiday gets in the way.

Still, better to have some access to information under law than no access at all.

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