The Government has lost a bid to withhold details of groups applying to open free schools.

The Department for Education was ordered by the Information Commissioner to publish a list of free school applications last year, but took to the decision to a higher authority.

It wants to keep the information confidential until an application is approved. It says releasing information about those applying might put them off putting together a bid. 

But the Information Tribunal said it was dismissing the appeal and upheld the Commissioner's decision that the DfE should publish the requested information.

It said: ''The Free School programme involves substantial public funds and significant changes to the way the education service is controlled, managed and delivered.

''It is a matter of considerable public importance and the transparency of the process and its openness to public debate and consideration are of concern to communities across England.''

It is understood that the DfE will now have to decide whether to release the information, or to submit a further appeal to the Upper Tribunal.

The DfE received three similar requests to publish details of the groups applying to open free schools under Freedom of Information requests, which it rejected.

One of the organisations requesting information, the British Humanist Association (BHA), appealed to the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) and in July last year the ICO ruled that the details requested were in the public interest and should be released.

Do you think it's right for details to be released before the decision is made? Or is the government right to want to keep it secret? Let us know in the comments.