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Council keeps the names of 72 “cause for concern” schools in Norfolk a secret

PUBLISHED: 06:30 10 November 2015 | UPDATED: 08:15 10 November 2015

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The names of the 72 schools Norfolk Council County believes are a cause for concern will remain secret, after the authority rejected a Freedom of Information request submitted by the EDP.

The council updated its risk assessment of all the county’s schools at the start of the academic year, placing them into three broad categories, largely based on their exam results.

As reported last month, one in six schools fell into the bottom category, meaning the council will intervene to try to improve standards, while 119 either required improvement or were not yet judged “good” by Ofsted, and 231 were rated good or outstanding.

After the council declined to say which school received which grading, the EDP sought the list using the Freedom of Information Act.

Now, in an email refusing the request, the council said: “Disclosure of the risk assessments and categories would be likely to inhibit the free and frank exchange of views for the purpose of deliberation on the progress of the school.

“Such exchanges occur in an expectation of confidence, allowing information, including details of the school’s risk assessment, to be shared and ideas to be discussed freely and frankly, at their initial stages, to enable the widest possible variety of views and proposals for improvement to be put forward for deliberation prior to decisions being made.”

The EDP has appealed against the decision, arguing parents have the right to know how schools are judged, and transparency would increase public confidence in efforts to improve education.

It also argued the release of the information would give parents up-to-date information about all schools, as nearly 180 Ofsted judgements about Norfolk schools are at least two years old, with the oldest dating back to February 2007.

In a statement, the council said it had given details of the appeal process.

The situation mirrors that in Suffolk, where the county council refused to say how it had rated individual schools in March, using its Red, Amber and Green (RAG) system.

It rejected a Freedom of Information request from the EDP’s sister paper, the East Anglian Daily Times, saying releasing the ratings would cause a “chilling effect” and prevent “free and frank” advice or exchange of views between education officers and schools.

The newspaper last month said it had asked the Information Commissioner to review this decision.

Do you have an education story? Email martin.george@archant.co.uk

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