The FOI Act aims to promote greater accountability across the public sector. The Act is overseen by the Information Commissioner and detailed guidance on the legislation can be found on the ICO website.
Under the legislation schools are required to have:
- an approved ‘publication scheme’ which sets out what information they hold and where and how this can be accessed. A template for schools can be found on the ICO website
- an FOI Policy in place. Guidance for governors can be found in the Governors Guide to the Law, chapter 25
- be aware of their statutory responsibility to respond to requests for information held by the school. Recent guidance was sent to schools on the required timescales for responding to requests.
Requests for personal information by either the subject of that information or a third party are exempt under the FOI Act as such information is covered by the Data Protection Act.
However, in practice most requests for personal information to schools will be for pupil’s educational records and will be covered by The Education (Pupil Information) (England) Regulations 2005. Guidance on this can be found in the Governors Guide to the Law, Chapter 25.