Publication - FOI/EIR release

Establishment, work and material from P1 practitioner forum: FOI release

Published: 25 Feb 2019

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

Published:
25 Feb 2019
Establishment, work and material from P1 practitioner forum: FOI release
FOI reference: FOI/19/00268
Date received: 24 Jan 2019
Date responded: 21 Feb 2019
Information requested

 

You asked for :
1. All communications regarding the decision establish the P1 Practitioner Forum (including attachments)

2. All communications regarding the decision to appoint Prof Ellis as chair of this forum (including attachments)

3. Any other communication regarding the work of the forum (including attachments)

4. Materials outlining the scope/remit of the forum, expected outcomes, reporting dates etc (NB I expect that this would covered by one of the above requests as it would surely have been communicated at some point either in an email or as an attachment - if this is indeed the case no separate response to point 4 is required)

5. Materials from meetings of the forum which have already taken place, including briefing papers and minutes (NB if minutes of such meetings do not exist I would expect to be made explicitly aware of this)

6. Details of any future meetings which are planned.

Response

 

I enclose a copy of most of the information you requested. Some of the information you have requested is available from the National Improvement Hub, Education Scotland website, which can be accessed on the following link :
https://education.gov.scot/improvement/practice-exemplars/snsa-p1-practitioner-forum

Where information has been referenced in the documentation being released to you which has been published on this website, I have indicated this to you in my response.
As you noted in your original request, you anticipated it may be difficult to fully separate the materials for specific points. In an effort to provide an easy pathway through the large amount of information being provided to you, I have created 2 response documents.

The first response document has information contained under each of the points in your request.

The second document details all logistical and organisational correspondence between Scottish Government, Education Scotland and Forum attendees. As this falls under point 3 of your request it has been included, but in order to make the response manageable, it is included separately.

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 exemptions under sections 27(1) – future publication within 12 weeks of your request; 30(b)(ii) – free and frank exchange of views for the purposes of deliberation in relation to communications/meetings with external stakeholders; 30(c) substantial prejudice to the effective conduct of public affairs in relation to communications/meetings with external stakeholders and 38(1)(b) personal information of FOISA applies to that information. The reasons why these exemptions apply are explained in the Annex to this letter.

 

ANNEX
REASONS FOR NOT PROVIDING INFORMATION

An exemption applies
Section 27(1)
An exemption under section 27(1) of FOISA applies to some of the information requested because we intend to publish that information on 29th March 2019, which is within 12 weeks of the date of your request. We consider that it is reasonable to withhold the information until that date, rather than release some of this information before the planned publication date.

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 release because of the interest in the topic and this will be met by our planned publication. In the meantime, there is a greater public interest in taking the time necessary to ensure the information has been properly collated and checked before it is published as planned. Also, we see no public interest in disrupting our programme of work to release the information ahead of the intended publication date.

 

Section 30(b)(ii)
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 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 P1 Practitioner Forum members on P1 assessments will 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 while the 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 position on P1 assessments, until the Government as a whole can adopt a decision 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 P1 Practitioner Forum members. Premature 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 decision making process, which would not be in the public interest. There is also an important public interest in avoiding the loss of stakeholder 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.

Section 30(c)
An exemption under section 30(c) of FOISA (prejudice to effective conduct of public affairs) applies to some of the information requested. It is essential for officials to be able to meet, often in confidence, with external stakeholders on a range of issues, including the P1 Practitioner Forum. Disclosing information about these meetingstparticularly without the consent of the stakeholder, is likely to undermine their trust in the Scottish Government and will substantially inhibit communications on this type of issue in the future. These stakeholders will be reluctant to provide their views fully and frankly if they believe that their views are likely to be made public, particularly while these discussions are still ongoing and decisions have nto been taken. This would significantly harm the Government’s ability to carry out many aspects of its work, and could adversely affect its ability to gather all of the evidence it needs to make fully informed decisions.

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 meet with appropriate external stakeholders as part of the process of exploring and refining the Government’s position on Primary 1 assessments, until the Government as a whole can adopt a decision 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 P1 Practitioner Forum members. Premature 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 decision making process, which would not be in the public interest.


Section 38(1)(b)
An exemption under section 38(1)(b) of FOISA applies to a small amount of the information you have requested because it is personal data of a third party, ie names and 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 http://www.gov.scot/foi-responses.

foi-19-00268 Document 1

111 page PDF
2.2 MB

foi-19-00268 Document 2

117 page PDF
1.6 MB

Contact

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

The Scottish Government
St Andrews House
Regent Road
Edinburgh
EH1 3DG