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Monday, 15 October 2018 19:52

Medway Council Shows Contempt for Information Commissioner: Extended Home Education Decision

Medway Council continues to show contempt for the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO), after being forced to provide information exactly one year and five months after my initial request, and 43 minutes before the end of a final 35 day deadline the Commissioner set for delivery by 25th September 2018.

The information the council eventually yielded followed a request for data on Elective Home Education (EHE) and Exclusions in Medway schools for 2015-16. Given the extraordinarily high rates of both, these should surely indicate concerns the Council would wish to expose, rather than cover up. The time that elapsed included many months of the Council failing to respond to me at all, of inadequate and much delayed Internal Reviews, of false claims about the nature of the information and a meeting with the Council back in June 2018 arranged by the ICO. At the meeting I was promised full co-operation then and in the future, in the first instance to deliver the required information promptly, a promise which the Council then completely ignored.

However, in a further sign of the contempt in which the Council holds the ICO’s authority, it has once again ignored the parallel request for 2017-18 data, and forced me to begin the whole process over again to issue a request for an Internal Review. Two weeks later, at least I have had an acknowledgement, more than on previous requests, although the quality of such Reviews makes a mockery of the term. The data provided after the ICO ultimatum for 2016-17 EHE further exposed false figures earlier provided. 

You will find an early history of the issue and my complaint here, written in July 2017 (!).

The decision is published on the ICO website, here, although it does not reference the tortuous path to bring this about, nor the misinformation provided by the school on the way.

The final figure of 225 children leaving schools for EHE in 2015-16, required by the ICO to follow an analysis back from first principles,  is a remarkable reduction from the result of my initial FOI response which recorded 377 children who left schools for EHE. Comparison of the two lists of schools shows absolutely no relationship between the two, so I still have zero confidence in this final figure, and I assume Medway councillors are in the same situation.  I have failed to find any 1recent Council report on EHE, so am unable to check, but would appreciate any link.

As a side effect of my complaint, I obtained the 2016-17 exclusion data from Medway Council, which showed 63 permanent exclusions for Medway, down from the astonishingly high 81 of 2015-16, and only slightly lower than Kent’s 68 (Kent being six times as large as Medway) but still in the bottom 20% of Authorities in the country.

 My initial request in April 2017 also included a request for the 2016-17 EHE figures to that date, and the request that went through the ICO has produced a figure of 227. This is considerably larger than the original figure of 173 I was provided with in October 2017 for the whole year, so I still have no idea of the real final outcome. Does anyone on Medway Council know this, given the importance currently being placed nationally on EHE issues.

 As so often when reporting on Medway matters, what a shambles and what a disgrace.  

Last modified on Wednesday, 17 October 2018 15:04

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