How the Peterborough Telegraph overcame a wall of resistance to reveal Eye Primary School’s annulled SATs results

Eye CofE Primary School EMN-180314-175547009
Eye CofE Primary School EMN-180314-175547009
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The Peterborough Telegraph has fought for answers for the past year since publishing our exclusive story back on March 29 last year about some of Eye CofE Primary School’s SATs results being annulled.

The PT sent in Freedom of Information requests to Peterborough City Council, Eye Primary and the Standards and Testing Agency to release documents and emails relating to the school’s most recent Key Stage 2 results.

On each occasion we ended up challenging the responses, internally to begin with, before escalating our complaint to the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO).

Here is how our year-long journey for answers unfolded:

April 5, 2018

The PT sent in a Freedom of Information request to the council asking for copies of all communication and documents relating to Eye Primary’s most recent Key Stage 2 results.

May 16

The council sent back its response, past the statutory deadline, with heavily redacted emails. It refused to disclose emails it had received from the school and asked us to contact the school directly to obtain these.

May 17

As a result the PT sent in a Freedom of Information request to Eye Primary asking for all internal and external communication, and all documents, relating to the school’s Key Stage 2 results.

On the same day the PT submitted a Freedom of Information request to the Standards and Testing Agency, which had declared that some of the school’s results were invalid, again asking for answers.

June 14

Eye Primary’s response came back with heavily redacted emails and documents not being released. The PT requested an internal review.

June 15

The Standards and Testing Agency refused to disclose any documents. The PT requested an internal review.

July 4

After being challenged by the PT that it had not sent across all emails that it held, in breach of its legal duty, the council sent through further emails which were again heavily redacted.

July 31

Still dissatisfied by the council’s responses, the PT appealed to the ICO which ruled that the council’s responses “do not comply with the provisions of the Freedom of Information Act 2000”. The council was ordered to carry out an internal review of its handling of the PT’s request.

September 10

The council’s internal review was completed by a council solicitor, past the deadline set by the ICO. The solicitor released one further document to the PT that had previously not been disclosed. She concluded: “I am satisfied that everything that can lawfully be disclosed to you has now been provided.”

November 5

Eye Primary’s internal review was completed. It stated: “We do not feel that any additional information is appropriate to be disclosed to you as a result of the internal review.” The PT appealed to the ICO.

December 14

Having considered the council’s internal review, the ICO then asked the authority to answer the PT’s original request again as it had failed to give legal exemptions as to why it had redacted emails and documents.

January 17, 2019

After being asked by the ICO to conduct a review of its response to the PT’s original request, Eye Primary said: “In retrospect, we believe that we may have been slightly overzealous in making those redactions, based on advice from our industry contacts and a desire to avoid breaching the data protection rights of those individuals involved in the matter.” New emails were released.

January 25

The council sent over its new response to our original request. The PT challenged it as documents were again not included.

March 29

The ICO ordered the Standards and Testing Agency to hand over to the PT its ‘letter to close the investigation’, but nothing more.

April 18

The ICO ordered the council to hand over to the PT the ‘letter of closure’. It also finds the council breached two sections of the Freedom of Information Act.

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