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ICO rules on Ofsted inspectors’ notes

ICO rules on Ofsted inspectors’ notes

ICO press release
9 October 2008

The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has ordered Ofsted to release a redacted version of the handwritten evidence forms completed during an inspection of St Patrick’s Primary School in Bristol. In the ICO’s view, releasing the information under the Freedom of Information Act would add to public knowledge and understanding about the performance of the school and the outcome of the inspection. The ICO also found that a substantial amount of the information in the forms was personal data relating to teachers, pupils, non teaching staff and a staff member from another school and should be withheld.

Assistant Information Commissioner, Steve Wood, ruled that as the school is publicly funded and accountable, disclosure of some of the information from the evidence forms is in the public interest. The ICO does not consider that the school inspection process would be significantly prejudiced by the disclosure and rejected Ofsted’s argument that the school would be less willing to cooperate fully in future inspections, even if negative comments were made public. The ruling also finds that any inhibition that an interviewee would feel as a result of disclosure could be reduced through the awareness that their comments will not be directly attributable to them.

Full press release.

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