6. Chase a late request for information

Deciding when to chase a request for information will depend on your own deadlines and the nature of the request. Under both FOI and SAR regimes there are hard deadlines, but also a requirement that data-controllers act without undue delays within the time limits.

More information on the time limits for data requests can be found in the Quick-Guide: Students and Information Rights.

Subject Access Requests

An SAR should be responded to “without undue delay” and in any event within one calendar month.

If you can wait a full month for the information, you may wish to allow the school this full amount of time before following up for a response. However, you should not feel compelled to wait the full month given that schools must act quickly under their duty to not delay unduly, even within the moth time limit. 

It is not necessary to postpone chasing where there is an imminent hearing, or where the request is straightforward, even if the one month time limit has not yet expired.

A straightforward request is likely to be one in which the young person has not been at the school very long, and has not had many behavioural incidents or additional support from the school.  Safeguarding concerns at school, SEND support, lots of behavioural incidents and a long school history will all complicate the process of obtaining records. In these cases it will be likely that the process of gathering that young person’s information for release will be more complex and may take longer.

If you have specified a specific set of records or narrow category of records that you are requesting, rather than requesting a full school file, then the request should not take as long to process.

Freedom of Information Requests

An FOI must be responded to "promptly", and in any event within the maximum number of days. For most organisations the deadline is 20 working days. For schools, the deadline is 20 school days or 60 working days, whichever is sooner.

As with an SAR, you can follow up within this time period because the public body An organisation that performs a public function with public funds. Includes schools (includes academies and free-schools, but not independent or private schools), CAMHS, the local authority and the police. must provide information without undue delay. If you have an imminent hearing, or the request is straightforward, you may want to chase even within the maximum allowed time limit.

If you asked a lot of questions in your FOI, or you asked questions that will require more administration to comply with, this will increase the time you should allow to the data-controller An organisation that holds information about a person. In relation to school files, the school holding the file is the data-controller to respond. If you chase too early you risk causing the school or other public body An organisation that performs a public function with public funds. Includes schools (includes academies and free-schools, but not independent or private schools), CAMHS, the local authority and the police. rejecting the request in its entirety.


Once you have received the information you have requested, go to the next step. If you never received a response to your request, go to step 9: making a complaint to the Information Commissioner's Office.

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