Correspondence regarding modern apprenticeships: FOI release

Information request and response under the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002.

Information requested

Since January 1st 2023:

All correspondence between the minister for higher education and skills development Scotland regarding modern apprenticeships


A search of correspondence received and sent to and from the Minister for Higher Education and Skills Development Scotland (SDS) was undertaken and it is confirmed that there was correspondence identified that met the scope of your request. As some content within 3 of the letters did not fall within the scope of your request we have provided extracts from those letters. All correspondence and extracts of correspondence can be found in Annex 1.

While our aim is to provide information whenever possible, in this instance we have redacted some of the information within some of the extracted correspondence because of exemptions under section 30(b)(ii).

Exemptions under section 30(b)(ii) of FOISA refer to the free and frank exchange of views for the purposes of deliberation in relation to communications with external stakeholders. 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 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 Skills Development Scotland will substantially inhibit such discussions in the future, because these Skills Development Scotland will be reluctant to provide their views fully and frankly if they believe that those views are likely to be made public, particularly while these discussions are still ongoing and decisions have not been taken.

This exemption is subject to the ‘public interest test’. Therefore, taking account of all the circumstances of this case, we have considered if the public interest in disclosing the information outweighs the public interest in applying the exemption. We have found that, on balance, the public interest lies in favour of upholding the exemption. 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 position, until the Government as a whole can adopt a policy that is sound and likely to be effective. This private space is essential to enable all options to be properly considered, so that good decisions can be taken based on fully informed advice and evidence, such as that provided by Skills Development Scotland. Premature disclosure is likely to undermine the full and frank discussion of issues between the Scottish Government and Skills Development Scotland, which in turn will undermine the quality of the decision making process, which would not be in the public interest. There is also an important public interest in avoiding the loss of Skills Development Scotland confidence in cases where they thought they were providing comments in confidence, which would be inevitable if an individual’s contribution was released against their wishes.

About FOI

The Scottish Government is committed to publishing all information released in response to Freedom of Information requests. View all FOI responses at

FOI - 202300352683 - Annex 1


Please quote the FOI reference
Central Enquiry Unit
Phone: 0300 244 4000

The Scottish Government
St Andrews House
Regent Road

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