The BCS Practitioner Certificate in Freedom of Information course is widely acknowledged as the leading industry qualification that demonstrates award holders possess the knowledge and skills to implement robust information access practices. The course outlines the requirements organisations must adhere to under the Freedom of Information Act (2000) and the Environmental Information Regulations (2004). This includes the maintenance of publication schemes, how to respond to requests, and disclosing information having applied the relevant exemptions or exceptions. The latest version of the BCS syllabus (v6.1) provides a significant refresh, with greater emphasis on records management, corporate governance, and information architecture. A new 90-minute multiple-choice BCS Practitioner Certificate Exam is now available online.
8 to 12 week programme
The BCS Practitioner Certificate in Freedom of Information course offers an in-depth examination of the legislation, codes of practice, frameworks, standards and ethics surrounding information access within public authorities. As a recognised professional workplace qualification, award holders are often selected to lead disclosure practices of publicly held information within their organisation, department or authority. The course provides delegates with a practical understanding of the obligations and responsibilities involved with being an FOI officer so that their organisations can be confident legal compliance is continually addressed.
This BCS-accredited course explores the rights people have to know about the activities of public bodies, except where there is a valid reason for non-disclosure. It examines how transparency and openness are integral to the degree of trust and confidence placed in public authorities. And how being accountable opens debate, ultimately leading to the development of more efficient public services.
The course requires participants to develop a thorough understanding of the access requirements under the Freedom of Information Act (2000), Environmental Information Regulations (2004) and associated legislation. It covers the process and mechanisms used to administer the release of information held by, or on behalf of, government departments and public authorities in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.
The course is delivered online for convenience and for the significant environmental and sustainability benefits it offers. Delegates can gain a recognised practitioner-level workplace qualification at home or from their desk by attending ten consecutive 3.5-hour live online sessions across two weeks. The course follows the latest BCS Syllabus (v6.1) and prepares participants for the 90-minute multiple-choice BCS Practitioner Certificate in Freedom of Information Course Exam, administered separately via Questionmark through online remote proctoring. Participants will also receive a separate 1-day online revision course to help prepare for the BCS Practitioner Certificate Exam.
By obtaining the BCS practitioner certificate in Freedom of Information, award holders will:
This professional BCS qualification has been designed for:
This course is also relevant to private sector organisations directly affected by FOI or EIR legislation and indirectly by their contractual relationship with a public authority.
The BCS Practitioner Certificate in Freedom of Information course is currently only available online. The course is delivered over 10 days, with one 3.5-hour live module each day.
The following schedule is intended as a guide:
• Learning outcomes
• Aims of the course
• Exam details & techniques
Understanding the legislation, codes of practice and ethics:• Legislations relevant to public authorities
• Bodies covered or excluded from the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (FOIA)
• Governance in public authorities
• Codes of Practice relevant to public authorities, including relevance of sections 47 and 48
• Ethics and legislation within public authorities
|FOIA scope and principles:
• What the Act does
• Amendments and extensions to other legislations
• Further duties of the Act
• Section 84 defining information
|How the purpose of Schedule 1 is amended and applied:
• Public Authorities listed in Schedule 1
• Section 4 By order Amending Schedule 1
• Section 5(1) Those designated as public bodies and contracted under Section 5(2)
• Section 6 Publicly owned companies
• Section 7 Public authorities with limited application
• Held information
|The Codes of Practice in FOI:
• Section 45 Access code
• Section 46 Records Management code
|Information Architecture, design and structure of information-sharing environments
• Retrieval tools, techniques such as software programs
|Publication Schemes Section 19:
• Adopting and maintaining an approved scheme
• The seven classes of the model publication scheme
• Definition documents
|FOIA Rights (Act and Access Code of Practice):
• Section 1(1) (a and b)
• Section 8 Valid requests
• Section 16 and Section 45 Advice and Assistance, including Clarification, Reducing costs, and Transferring requests
• Section 14 Vexatious and Repeated requests
• Access code – Responses and Refusals
• Access code -Historical Records
|Section 11 Means of Communication:
• Preference for communication
|Re-use of public sector information Regulations:
• Public bodies in scope
• Public bodies out of scope
|Section 11A Re-use of Datasets
|Section 11B Power to charge fees
|Copyright, Design and Patents Act
|Fees and cost limits:
• Sections 9 and 13 and Code of Practice guidance
• Appropriate limits
• Inclusive costs
|Time limits for responding to requests
• Definition of working day
• Time variations
• Public interest test extensions
|Disclosure and Non-Disclosure and Exemptions
• Main categories of exemptions - Absolute and qualified
• Subcategories – Class and Prejudice
• Prejudice/harm test
• Public Interest Test
• Absolute Exemptions – Sections 21, 23, 32, 34, 36, 37, 40, 41, & 44
• Parliamentary Privilege
• Qualified Exemptions – Sections 22, 24, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 33, 35, 36, 37, 38, 39, 40, 42, & 43
|The Removal of Exemptions:
• Sections 62 and 63 Historical records:
| Ministerial Certificates:
• Sections 23 and 24 National Security Certificates
• Section 34 Parliamentary Privilege
• Section 53 Ministerial Override
|Environmental Information Regulations (2004):
• Code of Practice
• Regulations 12(4) and 12(5) Exceptions
|Principles and lawful conditions in the UK General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) & Data Protection Act 2018 (DPA18)
• Definition of Personal and special category personal data
|UK GDPR & DPA18 (continued):
• DPA section 7 meaning of public authority and public bodies
• Section 10 Special categories and criminal convictions
• Amendments to FOIA via DPA18
|Enforcement, Offences and Appeals:
• Role and powers of the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO)
• Section 50 Decision notices
• Section 51 Information notices
• Section 52 Enforcement notices
• Section 77 Offence of Altering records
• Section 55 Warrant offences – Power of Entry and Inspection
• Access code part 5 – Reviews, complaints, and appeals:
• Appeals to the ICO
|The roles and power of the Information Rights Tribunal (TGRC):
• Section 58 Determination of appeals
• Upper Tribunal
• First instance appeals
• Judicial Review
|Questions & Answers
|Individual 1-2-1 tutorials
Practitioner Certificate in Freedom of Information (PC-FOI)
Syllabus version 6.1
This professional certification is not regulated by the following United Kingdom Regulators - Ofqual, Qualification in Wales, CCEA or SQA.
Exam Preparation Day
The topics covered in this session include:
Part 1. Online discussion and presentation
Part 2. Mock exam
Part 3. Discussion, Q&A, review of the mock exam
Following the examination prep day, the instructor will evaluate each student’s mock paper and provide individual feedback. This will include direct comments on the answers, exam technique and offer guidance for further study areas.
The BCS Practitioner Certificate in Freedom of Information exam format is a 90-minute multiple-choice examination.
The exam is a closed book, i.e. no materials can be taken into the examination room.
|Type||6 x Multiple choice questions (State and Describe)
12 x Multiple response questions (Explain)
3 x scenario-based questions (Apply and Analyse)
|Open Book||No (no materials can be taken into the examination room)|
|Pass Mark||39/60 (65%)|
|Delivery||Digital format only|
Adjustments and/or additional time can be requested in line with the BCS reasonable adjustments policy for candidates with a disability or other special considerations, including English as a second language.
Get this BCS Practitioner Certificate in Freedom of Information for:
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In addition to the above course dates, you also need to select the dates for your examination events. Choose a date for your exam preparation day 3-6 weeks after the training course. Then book your BCS exam 2-6 weeks after the exam preparation day.
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