- 16 Jan 2020
Date received: 10 Dec 2019
Date responded: 15 Jan 2020
Please release the following information under FOISA regarding the 23 October 2019 meeting involving the Scottish Government (including Deputy First Minister), Education Scotland and ADES
- All communications regarding the meeting
- All materials prepared in advance of the meeting
- All notes from the meeting, including any minutes and personal notes from attendees
This request applies to John Swinney, Special Advisers, Education Scotland staff and Learning Directorate staff.
With regard to the first two points of your request, please note relevant enclosures attached.
With regard to point three, you will wish to note that officials produced a note of the actions resulting from the meeting, this has previously been released to you under FOI 201900005677 and this is reflected in the enclosures.
An exemption under section 25(1) of FOISA applies to some of the information requested. We do not have to provide information which is already reasonably accessible to you. This information has either been issued to you previously or available publically. If, however, you do not have internet access to obtain this information from the website(s) listed, then please contact me again and I will send you a paper copy.
An exemption under section 29(1)(a) of FOISA (formulation or development of government policy) applies to some of the information requested because it relates to the development of the Scottish Government’s policy on National Qualifications.
An exemption under section 30(b)(ii) of FOISA (free and frank exchange of views) applies to some of the information requested. This exemption applies because disclosure would, or would be likely to, inhibit substantially the free and frank exchange of views for the purposes of deliberation. This exemption recognises the need for Ministers and officials to have a private space within which to discuss issues and options with external stakeholders before the Scottish Government reaches a settled public view.
Disclosing the content of these discussions with stakeholders substantially inhibit such discussions in the future, because these stakeholders will be reluctant to provide their views fully and frankly if they believe that those views are likely to be made public, particularly when discussions are ongoing and decisions have not been taken.
We recognise that there is a public interest in disclosing information as part of open, transparent and accountable government, and to inform public debate. However, there is a greater public interest in allowing Ministers and officials a private space within which to communicate with appropriate external stakeholders as part of the process of exploring and refining the Government’s policy, until the Government as a whole can adopt a decision which is sound and likely to be effective.
This private space is essential to enable all options to be properly considered, so that effective policy decisions can be taken based on fully informed advice and evidence. Disclosure is likely to undermine the full and frank discussion of issues between the Scottish Government and these stakeholders, which in turn will undermine the quality of the policy making process, which would not be in the public interest.
Exemptions under section 38(1)(b) of FOISA (personal information) apply to some of the information requested because it is personal data of a third party, i.e. the names/contact details of individuals, and disclosing it would contravene the data protection principles in Article 5(1) of the General Data Protection Regulation and in section 34(1) of the Data Protection Act 2018. This exemption is not subject to the ‘public interest test’, so we are not required to consider if the public interest in disclosing the information outweighs the public interest in applying the exemption.
Your right to request a review
If you are unhappy with this response to your FOI request, you may ask us to carry out an internal review of the response, by email to DirectorofLearning@gov.scot, or in writing to:
Director of Learning
The Scottish Government
Your review request should explain why you are dissatisfied with this response, and should be made within 40 working days from the date when you received this letter. We will complete the review and tell you the result, within 20 working days from the date when we receive your review request.
The Scottish Government is committed to publishing all information released in response to Freedom of Information requests. View all FOI responses at http://www.gov.scot/foi-responses.
Please quote the FOI reference
Central Enquiry Unit
Phone: 0300 244 4000
The Scottish Government
St Andrews House