The BCS Certificate in Freedom of Information provides a qualification that demonstrates a level of application and knowledge obtained by those responsible for dealing with freedom of information within an organisation. The BCS Certificate in Freedom of Information is aligned to SFIA plus as its framework.
Those experienced in freedom of information issues, as well as those new to the subject, require adequate training in order that their organisations are confident legal compliance is continually addressed.
It is necessary to identify issues requiring expert freedom of information advice in good time in order that organisational reputation and credibility is enhanced through relevant information management policies and procedures.
Part 1: Legislation, codes of practice, and ethics, including:
- Public authorities covered by Freedom of Information, and those not
- Governance structure and the importance of the roles
- FOIA Codes of practice
- The difference between ethics and legislation
Part 2: The Scope and Principles of the Freedom of Information Act
- The purpose of the Freedom of Information Act 2000
- Principles of FOIA legislation
- Schedule 1, amendments, and applications
- FOIA and the Private Sector
Part 3: Obligations and Responsibilities
- Good practice for record management
- Access rights and codes of practice
- Fees, regulations, and other costs associated with a request
Part 4: Disclosure, Non-disclosure, and exemptions
- Types of exemptions
- Prejudice, public interest, and legitimate tests
- Applying exemptions
Part 5: Environmental Information and Personal Data
- Environmental Information Regulations, relevancy, and difference from FOIA
- Principles and lawful decisions with regard to the Data Protection Act
Part 6: Enforcement and Appeals
- Enforcement powers
- Offences related to information disclosure
- The appeals process
You can download the syllabus on the BCS website by clicking here: infosec-freedom-information-syllabus.pdf (bcs.org)
- 12-month BCS Professional membership.
- BCS exam (to be taken when convenient to you).
- Support for 1-month post-course on data protection related matters.
- Sample papers to help you revise.
- An innovative risk model designed for you to assess data protection risks in your organisation.
- Opportunity to network with other data protection professionals.
The course takes 5 days to complete and will be held virtually.
You will need access to Microsoft Teams throughout the course as all sessions will all be held via Teams.
The BCS exam is included within the cost of the course. The exam is currently only available online via remote proctor, to be completed after the course at a time suitable for you.
The DPAS Training Manager will set you up on the dedicated BCS and QuestionMark portal, which is where you will book your exam. To access this you will be sent a one-time link to the portal to set up your registration.
Although you can take your exam at any time that suits you, and there is no time limit on when you sit the exam, you will need to ensure you are following the updated syllabus if you take it 6 months after the course.
You can carry out the exam at any location convenient to you. You will use your own device for the exam. The exam is a 90 minute closed book exam. The pass rate is 22/33 (65%). The exam is split into the following sections:
- 6 multiple choice questions
- 12 multiple response questions
- 3 scenarios, with 5 multiple choice questions per scenario
All sessions will commence at 9 am and finish at 4.00 pm. Breaks will be scheduled throughout the day. If you need to attend a meeting during the day, please discuss this with the trainer so they can tie this into allocated breaks.
You can take your exam at any time that suits you, there is no time limit on when you sit the exam. However, you will need to ensure that you are following the updated syllabus if you take it 6 months after the course.
The exam itself is held via remote proctor (essentially, someone watches you complete the exam). You can do this at any location convenient to you. You will use your own device for the exam. The exam is a 90 minute closed book exam. The pass rate is 26/40 (65%).
Our course is great for
This qualification is primarily aimed at those who are managing or responding to requests for information from the public or working in this subject area, for instance Information Managers.
This qualification is likely to be of particular benefit to those working in the following areas:
- Solicitors advising on information law issues
- Data Protection Officers
- FOI practitioners
- Information governance leads
- Data protection and privacy
- Information governance, risk and compliance
- Data management
- Project management
- Directors/Senior managers with data protection responsibilities
- Legal and procurement
It is also relevant to private sector organisations that are either affected directly by freedom of information and environmental information legislation or indirectly by their contractual relationship with a public authority.
Purpose of the Training
The syllabus places compliance with the Act in the context of good information practices within the organisation. On attaining the certificate, award holders will:
- Know how specific exemptions might apply to requests for information including the application of the public interest test
- Have a clear and balanced approach to applying legal judgements in accordance with the law and relevant case law.
- Understand implementation of internal management procedures to support freedom of information and environmental information legislation.
- Hold knowledge of the definition of the Act and how it interacts with related legislation, the Environmental Information Regulations 2004, UK-GDPR, EU-GDPR and the Data Protection Act 2018.
- Know how to develop internal procedures to support your authority’s compliance with the FOI Act, including those relating to internal reviews.
- How to apply the legislation in a practical setting relevant to your work.
- How to prepare clear advice to colleagues as well as the public.