Publishing governance information as PDF is acceptable; its the information that matters!

Governing bodies are now required to publish information about governors on websites. This is in the interest of transparency. Statutory Guidance published on 14th August 2015 states (para 25) that

Governors hold an important public office and their identity should be known to their school and wider communities. In the interests of transparency, a governing body should publish on its website up-to-date details of its governance arrangements in a readily accessible form.

The footnote states that readily accessible means the information should be on a webpage without the3 need to download or open a separate document.

The Academies Financial Handbook (AFH) states that

2.5.2 In the interest of transparency, an academy trust must publish on its website up-to-details of its governance arrangements in a readily accessible format.

As far as I can see the AFH does not specify what is meant by “readily accessible format”.

This has led to a great deal of discussion on Twitter. Shena Lewington has found very few examples of information about governance arrangements published as webpages (see her Hall of Fame). Many of us felt that publishing information as a PDF should be allowed as Adobe is a free programme and widely used, information can be easily downloaded and printed if people wanted to do that. If the thinking behind asking for this to be published as a web page was that data could be harvested, then it was pointed out that a standard format would be needed in order to do that.

Sean Harford clarified that Ofsted will not downgrade schools if they had the required information as a PDF.

I decided to ask Department For Education directly if PDF would be acceptable.

This morning they tweeted a reply which says

This has made me very happy. This makes it easy for clerks or website administrators to publish information easily. It also means that those who don’t have the information as a web page (which as Shena found are the majority) can breathe again.

I will end by thanking the Department for reducing the burden on governors and for replying to my query so promptly.

Update: The Department subsequently said that pdf is not an accessible format so information cannnot be uploaded as a pdf.


3 thoughts on “Publishing governance information as PDF is acceptable; its the information that matters!

  1. roddiegrant

    I am so disappointed the DfE has given way on this. The statutory guidance is unambiguous that downloads are not acceptable. I literally cheered when I first read that. Downloads are a pain in the neck! So many times I’ve wanted a simple bit of information which could quite easily be incorporated in a web page but instead I have to download a pdf and then open Acrobat before I can get at it. Then I have to go to my downloads folder find the file and delete it to avoid my hard disk filling up. A long rigmarole for something which should have taken 2 seconds.

    And when it comes to finding the right file to delete, that alone can take ages because of stupid filenames. What on earth is “uksi_20031962_en.pdf”? I’ll have to open Acrobat to open the file to find out. So if you must use pdfs give them names that mean something long after their connection to your site is lost. And make sure you include a date or version number because you’ll have to create a new pdf every time a bit of the information changes.

    Or you could just make the change directly on the web page and save your readers a lot of hassle downloading, opening, and deleting unnecessary files.

  2. Pingback: Publishing information on website matters; DfE Clarification | Governing Matters

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