Freedom of information

Freedom of information


Q. What is the Freedom of Information Act 2000?

A. The FOI Act is a law that affects all public sector organisations and came into full force on 1 January 2005. It gives you greater access to information held by all public organisations, local and central government, including Ofsted, and lets you find out more about what we do, how we arrive at decisions and how we spend public money. Our FOI policy can be accessed on the right. Top


Q. Access to information – Ofsted's Publication Scheme

A. To make it easier for you to access information, many publications are already available directly from the Ofsted website or the Ofsted Publications Centre. For further details of information that is available, please view our Publication Scheme. Top


Q. Can I see all the information that Ofsted holds?

A. If you are seeking information which is not available through our website or Publication Scheme, you may ask to see any information that we hold. However, some information may be subject to exemptions that are written into the Act. There are a number of exemptions which cover a range of areas such as information that is ‘reasonably accessible’ elsewhere (e.g. within the Publication Scheme or on the Ofsted website). Some other examples of information that may be exempt are: school inspection evidence; information obtained in confidence by Ofsted, either during inspections or through complaints; personal data; information relating to regulatory enforcement action. For information about exemptions please go to the DCA Website Guidance. You may also wish to see information that has previously been released by Ofsted in our Disclosure Log. This log will be update annually. Top


Q. What if I can't find what I'm looking for?

A. If the information you are seeking does not appear on our website or in the Publication Scheme, you can make a request in writing to Ofsted. Top


Q. Making a request

A. The Information Commissioner has produced guidance to explain how to make a request under the FOI Act in order to help you receive the information you are looking for. This guidance can be found to the left of this page. Ofsted will need to record your request, contact you and locate the relevant information. To help us do this, your request: must be made in writing (emails are encouraged); should state your name and contact address and, if possible, a contact phone number; should give precise details of the information you seek. If a request is very general we may need to contact you to clarify your request. For example, you may wish to see school inspection reports for schools in your area. In this case it would be helpful for us if you could name the particular schools with the location and the relevant local authority. Top


Q. Who to contact?

A. The handling of FOI requests is the responsibility of the relevant division of Ofsted that deals with that area of the business rather than by one central team. It may be that you have already contacted Ofsted and therefore have the name of someone that you can email concerning the information that you are interested in. If this is not the case your request can be sent by email to or sent by post to: Royal Exchange Buildings, St Ann's Square, Manchester, M2 7LA. Top


Q. Will it cost me anything?

A. There will not usually be a charge for supplying information. However if the request involves photocopying, it may be necessary to make a charge. In all cases, we will let you know if there is a cost before we start work so that you can choose whether to pay it or to modify your request. Top


Q. How long will I have to wait for the information?

A. Usually the information will be sent to you within 20 working days of your request. It may take longer if we need to clarify your request or if we need to consider whether exemptions apply to the information you have asked for. If your request is put on hold for any reason, we will keep you informed of how we are progressing, and as far as possible give you an expected date for your response. Top


Q. How many requests can I make?

A. The Freedom of Information Act does not place a limit on the amount of requests you can make. However, under Section 12 of the Act, we can reserve the right to refuse a request if it is likely to take longer than three working days to find, sort and edit the information requested. We will give you the opportunity to refine your request if we think it is likely to exceed the limit under Act. If we receive several requests from the same person, or a series of requests that we think are intended to disrupt our work, these may be treated as repeated or vexatious. In this case we would write to you and explain how we reached this decision. Top


Q. How will the information be provided to me?

A. You can tell us how you would like to receive the information and we will try to comply with your wishes. If it is not possible to do so we will notify you and offer an alternative. Top


Q. How can I use the information I receive?

A. The Freedom of Information Act allows access to information, but it does not give the requestor permission to re-use that information for commercial gain. Therefore, you may reproduce our copyright protected content free of charge, without specific permission, provided you are not reproducing it for profit, material or financial gain. You must reproduce the material accurately and not use it in a misleading context. If you are publishing the material or issuing it to others, you must acknowledge its source, copyright status and the date of publication, if known. This permission to reproduce our copyright protected material does not extend to any material that is identified as being the copyright of a third party. You must seek authorisation to reproduce such material from the copyright holder concerned. Top


Q. How do I appeal or make a complaint?

A. We hope we can resolve most issues with you, but if you wish to make a formal complaint about the way we have dealt with your request you should do this in writing. Your complaint will be dealt with under our 'Complaints Procedure'. Top


Q. Can I use the Freedom of Information Act to see information about me or my children?

A. No, any requests received for personal information will be dealt with under the Data Protection Act. Parents may be interested to note that before a school inspection takes place parents receive notification of the inspection. Included in the information Ofsted provides is a reference to the data that is collected, which may be held by various local and central government offices including Ofsted. Ofsted does have access to information about the National Curriculum exam and test results for individual pupils provided to us by the Department for Education and Skills. However, these records do not include pupils’ names so it is not possible for Ofsted to identify a particular pupil. Ofsted does not process personal data about children at school. Ofsted holds personal data on its own staff and on the childcare providers that are required to register with Ofsted. As data controllers of this information, Ofsted is required to register with the Information Commissioners Office. If you wish to view our registration with the ICO click on this link: and quote the reference number Z5097939. Top