The Freedom of Information Act 2000 applies to all information held by public authorities. The purposes of the Act are summarised below:
- To allow access to recorded information held by public authorities
- To create exemptions from the duty to disclose information
- To establish the arrangements for enforcement and appeal
This means you can have access to information held by public authorities or information that is held on their behalf.
However, it doesn’t give people the right to School documents or other types of records or information on other people. It gives a right (subject to exemptions) to the relevant information, so there will be times when only some parts of a document can be made available.
Before making your information request
The School already makes a lot of information available, so check first, as if you can already get hold of it, the School isn’t obliged to deal with your request.
Who can request information under FOI?
Anyone can request information under the Act regardless of age, nationality or location.
How do I make a request?
Your request must be made in writing. You can submit your request via email to Foirequests@whitehallparkschool.co.uk
Your request must include:
- Your name
- A contact address
- A description of the information you wish to obtain
- Any preferences for the format for receiving the information
Much as we would like to, the School doesn’t have the manpower to respond to broad requests for information, so please be as specific as possible so we can locate it. Also, we should be able to get back to you faster. If we don’t have enough information to find what you want, we may come back to you with more questions.
What happens when I make a request?
When we get a request for information, we have to respond promptly within 20 working days. We will consider your request, and let you know if we can provide the information you requested, or explain why we can’t.
What does it cost?
If the requested information costs more than £450, we are allowed to charge you for it. We are also allowed to refuse the request. If we intend to charge a fee, we will tell you first and you then have 3 months in which to pay. Once we receive the fee, we will then respond to your request. If the cost of meeting your request exceeds the appropriate limit in the regulations, we are not obliged to meet your request. If you refuse to pay the fee, the School can refuse to supply the information. The School also reserves the right to charge for disbursements e.g. Photocopying and postage. If we refuse the request we will write to you to ask you to revise it.
What happens if my request is refused?
A request for information may only be refused if:
- it is vexatious or repeated
- if we have asked you for more information in order to meet your request and you have not provided it
- if it falls under one of the exemptions
If your request is refused, we will explain why and give you details of how to apply for an internal review of this decision. For details on how to make a complaint, see below. If, after an internal review, the School still refuses your request, you may ask the Information Commissioner to review that decision.
If you are unhappy with a response, you can request an internal review. Following this, you have a further right of appeal to the Information Commissioner and subsequently to the Information Tribunal.
You may be unhappy with the treatment you have received if, for example:
- your application was not dealt with within the 20 working days time-limit
- you did not receive all of the information requested
- you feel that exemptions have been wrongly applied
- you feel that a fee has been wrongly charged
Part VI of the Section 45 Code of Practice requires public authorities to have a process in place to ensure that applicants are able to ask a public authority for an internal review if they are not content with the public authority’s decision on release. This is the first review stage for applicants.
Any internal review will be conducted by a person who was not party to the original decision on whether to release information.
The internal review will be a fair and impartial review of decisions made during the original consideration of whether to release information.
All internal reviews will consider the information released against the information requested and make a full review of the papers associated with the original application.
The internal reviewer will discuss the decisions made with the staff member, or members, who dealt with the original application in order to build a full picture as to how decisions were made.
After concluding the internal review, the reviewer will discuss their conclusions with the school’s freedom of information specialist in order to ensure that any internal processes, which may need to be altered, are fully reviewed.
You will be fully informed of the outcome of the internal review.
What are the timescales for internal reviews?
Internal reviews have to be completed in a reasonable timescale. Whitehall Park School aims to conclude internal reviews as follows:
- we aim to deal with simple reviews within 20 working days of receiving the complaint
- we aim to deal with complex reviews – in particular where it is necessary to reconsider the public interest test – with within six weeks of receiving the complaint.
Making a complaint
We will always try to help you with queries and requests for information. But if you do have a complaint, please contact the school via this link.