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Freedom of Information Policy 2018

1. Introduction

The Freedom of Information (FOI) Act 2000 provides individuals and organisations with the right to request information held by, or on behalf, of Western Community Primary School. As a school we must comply with the Act. The Act applies to all recorded information held by Western Community Primary School
or by someone else on behalf of Western Community Primary School
This policy applies to all staff of Western Community Primary School, and temporary staff working for or on behalf of the School. This policy aims to ensure individuals and organisations have access to information held by the Western Community Primary School in order to promote greater openness, providing increased transparency of decision making and to build public trust and confidence. A request for information does not need to specify itself as an FOI request or refer to the FOI Act for it to be valid. This policy covers all requests for information except requests from individuals for their own personal data and ‘business as usual’ requests. A ‘business as usual’ request is a request for information or services that a school would expect to receive in its normal day to day operation. Any request that indicates it is an FOI request cannot be treated as ‘business as usual’.

Information must be provided if it is held, unless one or more of the exemptions listed in the legislation applies. An FOI requestor has the right to be told whether the information is held and the right to receive the information, subject to exemptions. This applies regardless of the purpose of the application.
This policy does not cover Subject Access Requests (SAR). These are requests about information relating to the requestor or about an individual the requestor is authorised to act on behalf of and should be processed in accordance with the General Data Protection Regulations.

2. Freedom of Information Policy and Procedure

If you receive a request for information and it cannot be classed as ‘business as usual’ or it states it is an FOI request, the school must respond to requests promptly and by the twentieth working day following the date of receipt of the request.
To be valid under the FOI Act, requests:

  • Must be in writing;
  • Must clearly describe the information being sought;
  • Can be made by an individual or an organisation;
  • Can be made by letter or email;
  • Must be legible;
  • Must contain the name of the applicant and a return postal or email address;
  • Do not have to be written on a special form;
  • Do not need to mention the FOI Act;
  • Do not need to refer to “Freedom of Information”.

If you receive a request that is unclear in what it asks then you can seek clarification from the applicant to enable the request to proceed. This will pause the request until the applicant responds. You must not deliberately withhold or dispose of information that is covered by the Act. If you have concerns about some information that has been asked for contact the Information Governance team dpo.schools@northtyneside.gov.uk to get advice on exemptions that may apply to the disclosure.
If a request for information is received there are two reasons why the information would not need to be provided. These are:

  • the information requested is exempt from disclosure
  • the request is considered a vexatious, unreasonable or repetitive.

The School has the right to refuse requests if the cost of providing the information would exceed the statutory cost limit. Where we estimate that complying with a request will take more than 18 hours of officer time, we have a duty to try to assist applicants to make refined requests which are more manageable.

3. Responsibilities and Accountabilities

Western Community Primary School senior leadership team are responsible for ensuring that this policy is communicated to all employees and that it is adhered to.
All employees must ensure that any request for information they receive is dealt with in line with the requirements of the FOI Act and that they comply with this policy and associated procedures.

4. Compliance with the Freedom of Information Policy

The Headteacher / Business Manager is responsible for monitoring compliance with this policy.
If employees knowingly do not comply with Schools policies, procedures or guidelines, the school may take appropriate action in accordance with the Employee Code of Conduct.
Other Relevant Policies, Standards and Procedures are:
Information Security Policy
Data Protection Act Policy
Policy documents on the Information Governance pages on the Intranet or contact the Information Governance Team.

5. Data Protection

Western Community Primary School is under a legal duty to protect personal data as required by the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). Western Community Primary School
will carefully consider its responsibilities under GDPR before disclosing personal data about living individuals, including current and former employees, pupils, and school governors. .

6. Contact details

Please contact the information governance team if you have any enquiries about this or any other referenced policy.

Email to: dpo.officer@northtyneside.gov.uk
Telephone: 0191 643 2333

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