Schools have to comply with all aspects of the Freedom of Information Act 2000
The FOIA gives a right of access to any member of the public or organisations to receive recorded information from public bodies including schools (nursery, primary and secondary state maintained schools). As schools are 'public authorities' for the purposes of the Act, they are legally obliged to:
- proactively publish certain information about their activities; and
- respond to members of the public who request information.
'Recorded information' includes printed documents, computer files, letters, emails, photographs, and sound or video recordings.
Note that the FOIA does not give people access to their own personal data - if a member of the public wants to see the information which a public authority holds about them, they should make a subject access request under the Data Protection Act 1998, as outlined on the data protection page. Requests for environmental information are covered by the Environmental Information Regulations 2004..
The starting point of the act is that information should be made available rather than should not be made available.
For schools this means you should:
- adopt and maintain a publication scheme - which publicises what information your school already makes available. (see model scheme)
- set up a process to deal with information requests (see flowchart below)
- set up a records management programme - policies and procedures to manage the information your school holds
- ensure all requests are dealt with within 20 working days.
Model Information Policy (0.3) - A template policy for you to adopt or modify as you wish.