- 30 Dec 2019
Date received: 29 Oct 2019
Date responded: 25 Nov 2019
In your request you asked:-
‘In response to my request for a review of FOI 201900004088 the government released a number of documents including one previously withheld. This document - Enclosure 08 - has the following purpose: "To update DFM on a potential approach to commissioning a full analysis of the 2019 SQA results, coordinated by the Scottish Government and involving Education Scotland, SQA, ADES and key stakeholders."
This document makes a specific and explicit recommendation to the DFM regarding further analysis of SQA exam results from 2019. See the screenshots below for details of this.
Screenshot attached below
Please therefore release the following information under FOISA:
1. Did the Scottish Government commission the proposed work or was it rejected?
2. If so, please release full details of current arrangements (for example, dates of meetings with a list of attendees and minutes, terms of reference, membership, timelines etc.) If not, please explain why.
3. Whether or not the work was commissioned, please also release any material (including communications, records of meetings, minutes etc) held by Scottish Ministers, Education Scotland and Learning Directorate staff regarding the decision to commission or reject the proposed work’.
With regard to question one, the Deputy First Minister accepted the broad recommendations submitted by officials on 13 August 2019. A copy of this submission is available at enclosure 08 of FOI 201900004088 (https://www.gov.scot/publications/foi-201900004088/).
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.
With regard to question two, the Deputy First Minister chaired a meeting with key Education Scotland, SQA, ADES and Scottish Government officials on 3 September 2019. A further meeting was held on 23 October 2019.
Attendees at the September meeting were; the Deputy First Minister, Fiona Robertson (Chief Executive, SQA), Graeme Logan (Director of Learning, Scottish Government), Gayle Gorman (Chief Executive, Education Scotland), Tony McDaid (Executive Director of Education Resources at South Lanarkshire Council, representing the Association of Directors of Education in Scotland), Alan Armstrong (Strategic Director, Education Scotland) and five other officials (two SQA and three Scottish Government) [names redacted under section 38(1)(b)].
Attendees at the October meeting were; the Deputy First Minister, Graeme Logan (Director of Learning, Scottish Government), Fiona Robertson (Chief Executive, SQA), Gayle Gorman (Chief Executive, Education Scotland), Tony McDaid (Executive Director of Education Resources at South Lanarkshire Council, representing the Association of Directors of Education in Scotland), Alan Armstrong (Strategic Director, Education Scotland), Janie McManus (Strategic Director Scrutiny, Education Scotland), Malcolm Pentland (Deputy Director, Curriculum, Qualifications and Gaelic, Scottish Government), and four other officials (one SQA and three Scottish Government) [names redacted under section 38(1)(b)].
The agenda for and note from the September meeting are provided at enclosures 1 and 2 below. An action note from the October meeting is provided at enclosure 3 below.
With regard to question three, the proposal to commission further work emerged from discussion at the SQA Results meeting with the Deputy First Minister on 1 August 2019. There is no further material on the decision to commission or reject the proposed work after that date.
Within the enclosures a number of redactions have been made under Section 38(1)(b) and Section 29(1)(a) of FOISA.
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.
An exemption under section 29(1)(a) of FOISA (formulation or development of government policy) applies to some of the information requested because it relates to the development of the Scottish Government’s policy on the Senior Phase.
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 high quality policy and decision-making, and in the properly considered implementation and development of policies and decisions. This means that Ministers and officials need to be able to consider all available options and to debate those rigorously, to fully understand their possible implications. Their candour in doing so will be affected by their assessment of whether the discussions on Senior Phase policy will be disclosed in the near future, when it may undermine or constrain the Government’s view on that policy while it is still under discussion and development.
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 Andrews House