Q: A parent has asked the school for information about the number of students who have requested term-time holidays. They are asking this according to the Freedom of Information Act. Do we have to respond?

A. All public bodies are under a duty to answer freedom of information (FOI) requests. There are exceptions to this, for example where doing so might breach the Data Protection Act. Your school should have a FOI Act publication scheme that sets out how your school deals with such requests. Schools can refuse a request if they consider it to be vexatious or repeated.

Depending on your publication scheme, it is likely that this request will need to be taken to the governing body and the parent responded to. The first stage is whether you have the information or not to answer the request. I would imagine that your records should be fairly easy to access on this. Of course, you must not give names and details of those asking for a term-time holiday.

You have 20 working days in which to respond. You should remember that the purpose of the FOI is to provide transparency in the public interest. The decision to release information must be based on this. Your actions are complying with recent legislation and, as such, a FOI should hold no anxiety for you or your governing body.


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