- 8 Oct 2018
Date received: 6 September 2018
Date responded: 5 October 2018
- I enclose a copy of most of the information you requested.
- Some of the information you have requested, the minutes of Teacher Panel meetings from August 2016 to December 2017, is available from the Scottish Government website - https://beta.gov.scot/groups/teacher-panel/ Under section 25(1) of FOISA, we do not have to give you information which is already reasonably accessible to you. In addition, we cannot provide the minute of the Teacher Panel meeting which took place on 4 September 2018 as it has not yet been produced. This minute will however, be published on the Scottish Government website once the Panel have approved it at their December 2018 meeting.
- While our aim is to provide information whenever possible, in this instance we are unable to provide some aspects the information you have requested. Specifically, this pertains to aspects of the information requested where views are attributed to individual Teacher Panel members. This is because an exemption under section 30(b)(ii) of FOISA – free and frank exchange of views for the purpose of deliberation - applies to that information. The reasons why that exemption applies are explained below.
- We are also unable to provide some of the information you requested if it references the name of Scottish Government officials. This is because an exemption under 38(1)(b) – personal information - of FOISA. The reasons why that exemption(s) applies are also explained below.
An exemption under section 38(1)(b) of FOISA (personal information) applies to a small amount the information requested because it is personal data of a third party, ie the names of Scottish Government officials 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.
An exemption applies, subject to the public interest test.
An exemption under section 30(b)(ii) of FOISA – free and frank exchange of views for the purpose of deliberation - applies to some of the information you have requested. Specifically, this refers to aspects of the information where views are attributed to specific Teacher Panel members. Disclosing this information would discourage present and future Teacher Panel members from providing open and honest views. This would in turn reduce the value of the feedback gathered from the Teacher Panel and therefore negatively impact how well feedback from the Teacher Panel contributes to the development of Scottish Government education policy.
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 some public interest in releasing information as part of open, transparent and accountable government, and to inform public debate. However, this is outweighed by the 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 on various aspects of education, 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 policy decisions can be taken based on fully informed advice and evidence, such as that provided by the Deputy First Minister’s Teacher Panel. Premature disclosure is likely to undermine the full and frank discussion of issues between the Scottish Government and the Teachers on that panel, which in turn will undermine the quality of the policy making process, which would not be in the public interest.
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 Andrew's House