Exam appeals in 2022: FOI release

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

Information requested

Regarding the 2022 exam appeals, all briefings and analysis held by the government. This may include, but is not necessarily limited to, ministerial briefing papers, options papers, documents discussing appeal outcomes / public response etc. The time frame for this request is 1 January 2022 to the present.


We wish to apologise for the delay in issuing a response to your request. There has been a significant amount of interest in decisions taken around the assessment of National Qualifications in 2021 and 2022 and in related issues. This increased demand on the team who was dealing with these issues, both in relation to a significant number of Freedom of Information requests being submitted as well as crucial policy development work.

The information requested in many cases was also of a complexity and sensitivity which required input from a number of teams, and required review by a limited number of senior policy officials with knowledge of the specific sensitivities who also had significant competing priorities for their time. Time was required to ensure that a comprehensive record of any relevant information was provided to each of these requests.

These pressures occurred over a period of time when there was reduced resources within the team and several staff changes which caused issues in terms of continuity and efficiency of processing FOI requests.

Officials are working to improve processes and learn lessons from this extremely busy period, to ensure that a more effective service is provided in future.

In relation to your request, I enclose a copy some of the information you requested.

While our aim is to provide information whenever possible, in this instance we are unable to provide some of the information you have requested because an exemption under sections 25(1) (Information otherwise accessible), 30(b)(i) (free and frank exchange of advice), 30(b)(ii) (free and frank exchange of views for the purposes of deliberation), 36(1) (information that is confidential), and 38(1)(b) (personal information) of FOISA applies to that information.

Some of the information contained within material being released under this request is available publicly. Links to this information are included where relevant within the separately attached Index of Enclosures. For reference, this includes the following:

SQA announces more support for learners taking National 5, Higher and Advanced Higher exams this year - SQA

• Roles and responsibilities for appeals 2022 (sqa.org.uk)


• SQA Appeals 2022 - what you need to know for National 5, Higher and Advanced Higher

• Appeals 2022 information for learners (sqa.org.uk)

appeals-high-level-summary-2022.pdf (sqa.org.uk)

Relationships between teacher estimates and results in Scotland (sqa.org.uk)

appeals-high-level-summary-2022.pdf (sqa.org.uk)

Under section 25(1) of FOISA, we do not have to give you information which is already reasonably accessible to you. 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.

Exemptions under section 30(b)(i) (free and frank provision of advice) and section 30(b)(ii) of FOISA (free and frank exchange of views) apply to some of the information requested. These exemptions apply because disclosure would, or would be likely to, inhibit substantially the free and frank provision of advice and exchange of views for the purposes of deliberation, as part of relationships which remain vital in supporting the delivery of qualifications.

An exemption under section 36(1) of FOISA, (information that is confidential), is information in respect of which a claim to confidentiality of communications could be maintained in legal proceedings (for example, if information is "legal privileged").

These exemptions are 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 exemptions. We have found that, on balance, the public interest lies in favour of upholding the exemptions.

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 issues can be explored and refined to enable the Government as a whole to reach a decision that is sound and likely to be effective, particularly while the importance of the advice from these relationships continues to have a bearing on how qualifications are affected by Covid-19 going forward. This private thinking space also allows for all options to be properly considered, so that good decisions can be taken.

An exemption under section 38(1)(b) of FOISA (personal information) applies to some of the information requested because it is personal data of a third party, i.e. names and contact details, 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.

About FOI

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.

FOI - 202200328849 - information released - Annex.pdf


Please quote the FOI reference
Central Enquiry Unit
Email: ceu@gov.scot
Phone: 0300 244 4000

The Scottish Government
St Andrews House
Regent Road

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