Freedom of Information

The Freedom of Information Act 2000 (FOI Act) gives you the right to request information from public authorities.  The FOI Act means that you have the right of access to information to help you understand:

  • how this Department works
  • how we spend public money
  • how and why we make our decisions.

You can also request information under:

The Data Protection Act 1998 (DPA) gives you access to your own personal information. The DPA applies to private enterprise as well as public authorities.

The Environmental Information Regulations 2004 (EIRs) gives you access to environmental information held by organisations that perform functions of a public nature.

How do I request information?

Under the FOI Act, you must request information about the Department of Education in writing (including by fax or email). Please ensure that you:

  • print your name and address for correspondence
  • state clearly the information you require
  • include a daytime telephone number, should we need to contact you

You can submit a request by writing to or emailing the Departmental Information Manager.

How long does it take to get information?

Once a written request for information is received, the Department has 20 working days to respond – although that time can be extended where:

  • an exemption may apply and we need to consider the public interest
  • we are awaiting payment of a fee by you

Sometimes we might need to contact you to clarify exactly what information you are interested in. It will help us to process your request more quickly if you are as specific as possible about what information it is you want. Please make sure that you provide us with your name and address and a contact telephone number.

Is there a cost for getting information?

This depends on a number of factors including the volume of material requested. Responses to enquiries that cost the Department less than £600 to process, (including the cost of finding, sorting or editing the material) will normally be provided free of charge, although there may be a small charge for disbursements (cost of photocopying, printing, postage etc).

The Department has the right to refuse to respond to a request that is estimated to cost more than £600 to process unless the request is for information covered by Environmental Information Regulations (EIRs), in which case the Department has to process the request if you are prepared to pay the costs.

If the information I want is not available?  

The FOI Act does not require us to gather information or create information that is not already there.  By way of assistance we may contact you and tell you what information we do hold that could help to answer your query, or suggest another public authority that may hold some or all of the information you are looking for.

What information can I have?

The FOI Act allows you access to almost all information that a public authority holds.  But there are some things that cannot be given to the public because they maybe exempt.  For example, information about national security, law enforcement or personal information about others – though you can obtain your own personal information.

What if I am refused information?

Please contact us first, if you are not satisfied with our response and tell us why.  If you are still not satisfied with our decision you can request an Internal Review.  

If you are not satisfied after the Internal Review, you can request a review by the Information Commissioner, which should be made in writing including copies of all relevant correspondence.

Data security

Effective data security is a key priority for the Department of Education. It is vital for public confidence and for the efficient, effective and safe conduct of the Department’s business.

In carrying out its duties effectively DE obtains, processes and manages a broad range of information from the education sector and the citizen. Some of the services provided by the Department directly involve the collection and handling of personal or sensitive data and information which must be managed appropriately and securely.

Gifts and hospitality

This section contains details of the DE Board gifts and hospitality register for 2014/15, the Senior Civil Service (SCS) gifts and hospitality register and NICS guidance on gifts and hospitality

Register of Interests

The details provided here are for DE Departmental Board & Audit and Risk Assurance Committee (ARAC) members only.

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