Many schools "blissfully ignorant" about FOI

The National Association of School Governors has warned that most schools are not equipped to meet the requirements of the Freedom of Information Act.

Jane Phillips represented the Association on the government advisory group for the Act. She maintains that the new law is unclear and that the majority of schools are not fully aware of their responsibilities: "There is a whole lack of clarity about what the act exactly means. When the requests start to come it will probably be a surprise for a lot of schools. Many people are living in blissful ignorance at present."

Ms Phillips said that schools face serious workload issues in terms of increased administration and problems with deciding when information is exempt and can be withheld. "Because of the lack of clarity about what the exemptions mean, there is a danger of schools either using the exemption inappropriately and withholding information that should be made public, or being overly open and publishing information that is sensitive and shouldn't be."

She urged schools to keep well ordered records and to make as much information as possible available in their websites.

Schools 'unprepared for Freedom of Information Act' (The Guardian, 14 January 2005)