West London Free School - TOTAL lack of transparency

Amy Lassman's picture
As I previously posted on this site I made a request for information from the DfE for the Funding Agreement for the WLFS under the Freedom of Information Act in April just after it was agreed by Gove, this was refused. I appealed but the decision was upheld. I have now written a complaint to the Information Commissioner as the DfE's arguments for withholding the information were:

1. It is not reasonable for the Government to be expected to release piecemeal information in advance of its planned timetable and planned publication of Funding Agreements, and there is a strong argument in favour of allowing everyone to view this information at the same time. If it were to release this information as requested on varying occasions this would result in partial information being released over a protracted period leading to confusion and inaccuracy.
2. It is important that Free School proposers are able to focus on preparing their new schools for opening to ensure the highest possible standards for the children who will start at the Free School in September. Releasing the information at a time of the Department's choosing will enable Free School proposers to deal with questions at an appropriate juncture and
enable them to remain fully focussed on key preparations for their school and its pupils.

Both arguments appear to rest on an argument of prejudice. The prejudice in the first instance is to the DfE, in that publication of the Funding Agreement would lead to confusion over the Free Schools project and the policies of this government. This has been comprehensively refuted in my appeal letter. The prejudice in the second instance is to schools, in that publication of the Funding Agreement would lead to questions to the school while they are preparing a school. This is an insubstantial argument. The argument is predicated on the idea that scrutiny at this stage of a
project’s lifecycle would be “inappropriate” but offers no evidence as to why this is so. Further, it contends that scrutiny prior to opening versus after opening would, in essence, be a chore too many.
This lacks in credibility; active management of a school consisting of hundreds of children would in fact add to the administrative and operational burden of the management team. You can follow my correspondence with the DfE here:

In brief the DfE are refusing to release the Funding Agreement til after the school has opened......No transparency at all!
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Janet Downs's picture
Mon, 23/05/2011 - 06:24

I think the Government is increasingly using Animal Farm as a handbook on how to govern. In their reply the DfEs acknowledge there is a public interest (soothing the animals) but reserves the right to release the information at a time of its choosing (Napoleon knows best).

Amy Lassman's picture
Tue, 24/01/2012 - 18:53

Third request turned down on different grounds...really must have some skeletons in those cupboards, Toby!

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