Newspapers’ challenge to Suffolk County Council over schools’ ratings secrecy

Teacher during a lesson.
PA Photo: David Davies.

Teacher during a lesson. PA Photo: David Davies. - Credit: PA

Suffolk County Council education bosses published their verdicts this week on all 295 state schools in Suffolk, but, unlike Ofsted inspections, they failed to release details of which rating each school has.

The council refused to published the school details of the second RAG ratings in March this year and maintained that position when challenged through a Freedom of Information (FOI) request in July. They argue it would cause a “chilling effect” and prevent “free and frank” advice or exchange of views between education officers and schools.

The EADT and the Ipswich Star have taken up the issue with the Information Commissioner – the independent body set up to promote openness by public bodies and data privacy for individuals – and asked for a review of the council’s decision.

Parent Geoffrey Prescott contacted the newspapers and claimed his child’s school failed to disclose whether it had a county council warning notice about its performance.

The council sent out the details once Mr Prescott submitted a FOI request.

Speaking about the RAG ratings, he said: “This is information the local authority holds, it should not be kept behind closed doors. The only reason to keep it secret is because it is bad news.”

Do you have an education story? Contact Matt Hunter on 01473 324802, email matt.hunter@archant.co.uk or tweet @MattHunter22

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