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Freedom of Information - Schools?

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Hey guys, wanted to run something past someone with more of a legal eagle brain than I.

 

I left my secondary school/sixth form college about four years ago now, and am very interested in getting my hands on my school records. It was a C of E school (parents chose for educational excellence, not religious reasons, and it accepts/ed other faiths readily) and in my first year (yr7), before I learned that not all people were nice and tolerant, I was disciplined harshly (overly, I feel) for having various personal items with a pagan theme in my school locker. Sillyness abounded of the sort that you can only get in a religious environment - accusations of being involved in satanic worship were bandied about by two teachers in particular (I was eleven, for the love of Bob), and the contents of my locker were emptied and (I was told by one of these teachers) burned, along with detentions, lunch and after school, being 'on report'.

Now, at the time, being eleven and cowed with the threat of Parents (still wasn't sure what I'd done wrong), I accepted all this, learned to keep my mouth shut, and nursed a bitter and festering sense of wrongdoing ever since. I've started to wonder, in the last few years, if any of this was ever official, and whether there was any reference to the burning of my personal items in my record/file. Let me make it clear that this is not intended for any legal action or anything like that; I simply want to satisfy my own self that it happened in the way I remember it.

 

What my question is, then, after all that, is exactly how much information am I entitled to from an educational establishment under the FoI? I know that there are certain exemptions for educational/health/governmental institutions, but would something like your own behavioural record at school be covered? I also want to get my hands on the 'thank you for coming up for an interview but' letter from Oxford Uni that I know my Head of Year received, purely for feedback purposes.

 

So, any thoughts? Bit thorny, but it'll get your brains working. :)


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There's a lot of data out there - but rather than reopen old wounds, if these records are sealed or disposed of in time, I can relate to that, as the purpose for which they were intended had been fulfilled. ON the other hand, if they were sold on to Experian et al, I'll be considering further action. Why not a FoI request as to the disposition of the records, rather than a SAE...?

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If the items were yours, and not theirs, then it would be criminal damage (from a legal point of view) and not to mention reckless and possibly an incapacitated action? I understand religious establishments have different moral standings than others but that's taking the mickey? Burning an eleven year olds possessions because they do not agree with their faith? Could this amount to racism or discrimination?? Opens a whole chapter on abuse and other issues surrounding education!


Lived through bankruptcy to tell the tale! Worked in various industries and studied law at university. All advice is given in good faith only :)

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Well, as I said, this isn't a prelude to action or anything like that, I'm not so foolish as to think I'd get anywhere, let alone have 'a case', I'm not bothered about it in that way; it's just to confirm that it happened as I remember it happening. I know there was a file for each student, and that mine contains/ed paperwork relating to the 'incident' all those years ago - I caught a brief glimpse as my head of year shuffled through them in front of me one day (I'm a natural at speed reading - small print, beware!).

 

I just wanted to know if I would have any way to get hold of them.


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Well, if it's a public school, then you could request any information held about you under the DPA or FOIA. If it's private, then under the DPA they should hold records for a certain length of time.


Lived through bankruptcy to tell the tale! Worked in various industries and studied law at university. All advice is given in good faith only :)

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You are entitled to see your school records, but it is via the Data Protection Act, not the Freedom of Information Act Act. The Freedom of Information Act Act has a specific exemption for personal data. The school are required to keep you records until you reach age 25 - many will hold them for much longer.

 

As to your property,it has probably long gone. Whilst thus may have been an offence of theft, it was in such a minor way that no action would be taken now.

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But there are also exemptions from the Data Protection Act for educational/military/medical info etc - I take it you're saying they wouldn't apply to this request? I want to check that I'm not wasting my time before I send anything off... :) I'm not bothered about the actual possessions, they were poems and things, like a spring ritual I'd illustrated, or a rune set I'd begun with a couple of stones and some chalk (hah, like to know how they got those to light! ;) ) or a drawing of a viking sea serpent...all really trivial stuff in terms of monetary value, and I'm not necessarily mourning their loss or anything - it just had a big psychological effect on me...well, it would at that age...


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The school are required to keep you records until you reach age 25 - many will hold them for much longer.

 

Hmm, where does it say this, out of interest?


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It comes from a recommended document retention schedule that is published on a DfES-sponsored website.

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