This policy covers Headley Park’s responsibility under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 which gives a general right of access to all types of recorded information held by public authorities.
Freedom of Information Act – To impact on dissemination of information held by the school and preserve appropriate privacy.
The Freedom of Information Act 2000 gives a general right of access to all types of recorded information held by public authorities, sets out exemptions from that right and places a number of obligations on public authorities. Any person who makes a request to a public authority for information must be informed whether the public authority holds that information and, subject to exemptions, supplied with that information.
Individuals already have the right of access to information about themselves under the Data Protection Act 1998. As far as public authorities are concerned, the Freedom of Information Act will extend this right to allow public access to all types of information held. This general right of access to information will come into effect on 1st January 2005.
Public authorities will be required to adopt and maintain a publication scheme setting out the classes of information it holds, the manner in which it intends to publish the information, and whether a charge will be made for the information. The purpose of a scheme is to ensure a significant amount of information is available, without the need for a specific request. Schemes are intended to encourage organisations to publish more information pro-actively and to develop a greater culture of openness. The Police Service are required to have an approved Publication Scheme in place by 30th June 2003.
The Act will be enforced by the Information Commissioner (the “Commissioner”), a post that combines regulation of both the Freedom of Information and Data Protection Acts.
The Legal Framework
Publication Schemes are a novel feature of the United Kingdom’s legislation on access to information held by public authorities. Their purpose is to be a means by which a public authority can make a significant amount of information available routinely, without waiting for someone to specifically request it.
Section 19(2) of the Act sets out the requirements for a publication scheme as follows:
A publication scheme must:
- specify classes of information that the public authority publishes or intends to publish;
- specify the manner in which information of each class is, or is intended to be, published; and
- specify whether the material is, or is intended to be, available to the public free of charge or on payment.
Section 19(3) states that “in adopting or reviewing a publication scheme, a public authority shall have regard to the public interest in allowing public access to information held by the authority and in the publication of reasons for decisions made by the public authority”.
Section 19(1) provides that it shall be the duty of every public authority to adopt and maintain a publication scheme, to publish information in accordance with its scheme and, from time to time, to review its publication scheme.
Individual Right of Access
Individuals already have the right of access to information about them (‘personal data’) which is held on computer, and in some paper files, under the Data Protection Act 1998. As far as public authorities are concerned, Freedom of Information will extend this right to allow access to all the types of information held, whether personal or non-personal. This right came into effect in January 2005.
The Act does, however, set out some exemptions to this right and it also places a number of obligations on public authorities about the way in which they provide information. Subject to the exemptions anyone making a request has the right to be told whether information exists and the right to receive the information. In general, a response must be provided within 20 working days.
There is also a duty on public authorities to provide advice or assistance to anyone seeking information (for example in order to explain what is readily available or to clarify what is wanted).
Making a Request for Information
You can do any of the following:
- Write to : The Headteacher. Headley Park Primary School. Headley Lane, Headley Park. Bristol BS13 7QB
- Email your request to firstname.lastname@example.org
Please note: for us to deal with your request you must include your name and address. A daytime contact telephone number will also let us contact you if we need to clarify exactly what information you want.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the purpose of the Freedom of Information Act?
To give the public greater access to information about the workings of government and public bodies.
What new rights does the Act create?
The Freedom of Information Act 2000 gives two related rights:
- The right to be told whether the information exists, and
- The right to receive the information (subject to exemptions).
When did the Act come into force?
The general right of access came into effect on 1st January 2005. Public authorities also have to adopt and maintain a Publication Scheme. The Police Service has to have such a scheme in place by 30th June 2003.
What if I want some information that is not included in the Publication Scheme?
Headley Park School is under no legal obligation to provide any additional information outside the Publication Scheme.
Do I have to pay for any of the information included in the Publication Scheme?
Probably; to cover costs @ 10p per sheet of A4
Does the Act only apply to records created from 1st January 2005?
No, the Act is fully retrospective.
Will I be able to obtain personal information about myself under the Act?
Requests for personal information will be dealt with under the Data Protection Act.
Who ensures that Headley Park Primary School complies with the Act?
The Information Commissioner is responsible for ensuring that all public authorities comply with the Act.