Publication of exam analysis - correspondence and drafts: FOI review

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

Information requested

All communications between Ministers, Special Advisers and communication staff regarding the publication of exam analysis by the Scottish Government (see here: )
Any drafts of pages 1-3 of the exam analysis (see here: )
You requested a review of the government’s handling of FOI ref: 202000017654, that looks into:
A. Providing any draft versions of pages 1-3 of the 2019 exam analysis;

B. Whether there were any omissions in the original response to the request to see all communications between Ministers, Special Advisers and communications staff regarding the publication of the exam
analysis by the Scottish Government;

C. Whether exemption 38(1)(b) has been applied correctly in the response.

I have concluded that the original decision should be confirmed, with modifications.


I have concluded that the original decision should be confirmed, with modifications.
With reference to point A above, I can confirm that the original response, which stated that the draftversion of the document held by the Scottish Government contained no substantive changes, was accurate. The only draft version existing on Scottish Government systems contains some minor differences as set out below:

  • SQA (Scottish Qualifications Authority) had been referred to as the Scottish Qualifications Agency in the draft document.
  • The acronym of ‘RICs’ had not been broken down in the draft document. This refers to Regional Improvement Collaboratives, and was broken down in the final document. 
  • There were some changes in the formatting of bullet points.

FOISA gives a right to information, not to documents. I have therefore determined that we were correct to respond under section 25(1) for this part of the request, as the draft version held is substantially similar to the version that is publicly available. However, I have now attached the earlier draft following your request for a review, in order to provide reassurance that the minor differences made no change to the substance of the information provided.

With reference to point B above, I have reviewed the searches undertaken during the handling of this request, and considered the information held afresh, taking into account the points you raised in your request for review. I have identified 2 additional emails that fall within scope of your request and these are now attached. I apologise for not providing this information earlier. I have also identified 3 further emails which, while not in scope, do form part of an email chain which is in scope. I have attached these for the purpose of clarity. Any other communications where Ministers, Special Advisers or communication staff were neither the sender nor a direct recipient of the correspondence, were deemed to be out of scope of your request and were not included in the response.

With reference to point C above, I have reconsidered all of the information withheld under section 38(1)(b) and I can confirm that this exemption has been applied correctly. In line with SG procedures, personal data relating to members of the senior civil service (SCS) has been disclosed, and only personal data in relation to officials below SCS has been withheld.

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 Review 202000024838 - 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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