Check that the information received is clear and complete

Check that the information received is clear and complete


Schools do not always know what they should provide and will sometimes be reluctant to provide everything that they are required to. Checking a file carefully to ensure you have everything you have asked for and are entitled to will help you put the best case forward in any hearings.

Subject access request

Through the right of subject access, a young person is entitled to the following documents from a school:

  • Records of attendance: These will normally be in the form of completed registers with markings denoting attendance, authorised absence, unauthorised absence, sickness, and exclusion.
  • School reports and academic records: The file should include termly and annual reports from teaching staff about the young person’s progress. Grades in national examinations may not be held on a school file, but data tracking academic performance is likely to be present in whatever way the school chooses to present it.
  • Record of behavioural incidents: Most schools use an electronic behaviour recording system that aggregates positive and negative behaviour points and allows class teachers to record behavioural incidents. This is sometimes done on a programme called SIMS, or PARS. If one of these systems is used, you should receive a table showing individual incidents and when they were recorded, as well as charts showing how the data is broken down into categories and what the response of staff was.
  • Statements from staff and students: Depending on the school’s policies and practices, serious incidents may be recorded in statements taken from students and staff. If this is the case then a copy of each should be included in the file.
  • SEN assessments and interventions: Where the young person has been assessed for SEN, the file should include a record of that assessment. It may exist in the form of a report from the school SENCO or an external professional, such as an educational psychiatrist or speech and language therapist. School files should also include referrals to external services for SEN assessment, the outcomes of those referrals, and any pastoral or therapeutic intervention that the young person received.
  • Correspondence: Perhaps the most commonly missing material from a school file is relevant correspondence. Where any correspondence clearly identifies the young person, including internal emails between teachers, the young person is the data subject and has a right to see that information. It may be helpful to see correspondence about behavioural concerns, SEN needs, the application of interventions, and any other matters relevant to the exclusion.
  • CCTV: It can be difficult to get a school to release a video, particularly if it shows the faces of other students whose identities the school is trying to protect. Schools should take steps to cover the faces of other students and release the video if at all possible, particularly if it is relevant evidence either for or against the exclusion.

Freedom of information

Checking freedom of information responses is a more straightforward process.

You can check the information received against the questions you asked. Where the school or other public body has refused to release information, they should make reference to an exemption in the Freedom of Information Act that allows them to do so. Check the exemptions to see if they apply under the circumstances.

Next step?

If you review the file and are satisfied that you have received everything you need and are entitled to, then you can exit this step-by-step guide. Otherwise, proceed to the next step.



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This information is correct at the time of writing, 31st August 2023. The law in this area is subject to change.

Coram Children’s Legal Centre cannot be held responsible if changes to the law outdate this publication. Individuals may print or photocopy information in CCLC publications for their personal use.

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