Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA) attainment results meeting - briefings, minutes, correspondence: FOI release

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

Information requested

In your request you asked for:-
Please release the following material in relation to the meeting on 1/8/19 referred to in the attached screenshot (which has come from a Scottish Government FOI response).

  • Briefings provided to staff in advance of the meeting
  • Minutes (if no minutes have been taken please make this clear)
  • All notes (including hand-written notes) made during the meeting
  • Communications between participants regarding the meeting (either before or after the meeting took place)


You may wish to note that the referenced ‘SQA Attainment Results 2019’ meeting with the Deputy First Minister was attended by a number of Education Scotland and Scottish Government officials. The purpose of the meeting was to share summary data about the results with Mr Swinney, to inform the development of subsequent briefing and to frame an accurate and balanced narrative reflecting the results.

With regard to your request, please note Annex A ; indexing and appending enclosures.

With regard to bullet two, you may wish to note that no minutes were taken.

With regard to bullet three; of those in attendance, two attendees took and retained notes .

With regard to bullet four, it may be helpful to clarify some of the standard terminology used in the ministerial submission which is compiled at the request of, and informed by, the Deputy First Minister. Sections within the submission include:

  • ‘Issues’ – reflect potential concerns and background information;
  • ‘Lines’ – reflect the Scottish Government’s position; and
  • ‘Top Lines’ – are lines to take for the Minister and couched in the first person, for his consideration

Within the enclosures redactions have been made under Section 38(1)(b).

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.

A further exemption is applied 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 Ministers and officials to have a private space within which to discuss and explore options before the Scottish Government reaches a settled public view.

Disclosing the content of free and frank discussions about the interpretation of results that could be taken out of context given discussions were ongoing will substantially inhibit such discussions in the future.

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/201900004091 - Information Released


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

The Scottish Government
St Andrews House
Regent Road

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