Exchange between SQA Chief Executive and Scottish Government: FOI release

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

Information requested

  • I understand that on 14 May 2021 the Chief Executive of the SQA wrote to the Scottish Government regarding the proposals for the appeals system that would be put in place for 2021 N5, Higher and Advanced Higher results. This letter included discussion of a 'no detriment' approach and sought advice from the government.

Under FOISA I would like you to release:

  • The letter;
  • Any communication between the government and SQA that formed part of a subsequent exchange or interaction (ie a reply from a minister, any replies to that reply, etc);
  • Documents held by government regarding discussion of the issues raised in the initial letter (this could be subsequent internal communication, briefing and analysis documents, records of meetings etc).


I enclose some of the information you requested.

Within the enclosures, redactions have been made under Section 25(1), Section 30(b)(i), Section 30(b)(ii), and Section 38(1)(b).

An exemption under Section 25(1) applies to some of the information requested. Some of the information you have requested has been published in previous FOI’s under the following reference numbers: 202100208810; 202100208812 and 202100241427.

Where applicable, direct links to the information within these FOI’s have been provided in the attached Annex. Under section 25(1) of FOISA, we do not have to give you information which is already reasonably accessible to you, or has already been published. Where there are previous redactions in these documents, these have been reviewed in line with the public interest test, as part of your enquiry.

An exemption under Sections 30(b)(i) and 30(b)(ii) of FOISA applies 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 the free and frank exchange of views, as part of relationships which remain vital in supporting the delivery of qualifications.

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. 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. 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.

About FOI

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

Index of enclosures - 202100243443


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

The Scottish Government
St Andrews House
Regent Road

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