Council's refusal to release school data makes bad reading
SHOULD schools that do not get pupils to read up to required standards be named in the Telegraph?
North East Lincolnshire Council does have the figures, but has, following a challenge by the Grimsby Telegraph, decided not to go public with them – and that is in line with the Government, which also refuses to release them.
As reported, nearly half of all Year One pupils (five and six-year-olds) in North East Lincolnshire have failed to reach expected levels in phonics reading tests.
The Department for Education figures show that only 50.84 per cent of them mastered the mechanics of reading for their age. They were not broken down into school level by the DfE because a public consultation concluded that it would be counter-productive.
The Telegraph sent a Freedom Of Information request to North East Lincolnshire Council asking for a breakdown but it said it would not release it under Section 36 (2) (c) of the Freedom of Information Act.
Paul Ellis, from the council's Informatics and Research Team, said: "In this case we determine that the balance of public interest is for the withholding of the information. This position is informed by the public consultation undertaken, in which respondents argued that making the information available 'could place pressure on young children taking this assessment and could narrow the curriculum. Therefore publishing school level data would change the nature of this assessment, and could disrupt its administration in schools, meaning that the intended benefits of this policy are not realised'."
Some councillors believe the information is in the public interest and parents have a right to know how each school is performing.
The chairman of the Children and Young People Scrutiny Panel scrutiny panel Mathew Brown (Lab) declined to comment, but councillor Iain Colquhoun (Con) said: "Personally, I think that this information should be in the public domain. The administration is more secretive than in the past.
"We publish A-level and GCSE results by school, so why not these?
"In some ways these results are more fundamental. Prospective parents should know how schools are performing."
Liberal Democrat Anne Darby, who also sits on the panel, added: "I feel that parents do have the right to this information.
"Having access to the figures can help people make informed choices for their children."
The Grimsby Telegraph has now contacted the Information Commissioner's Office for an independent review on the matter.
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