Briefings and minutes of meetings with Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA) concerning 2020 awards: FOI release

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

Information requested


  • Minutes of any meetings, and any briefings produced for these meetings, between the First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon MSP, and the Cabinet Secretary for Education & Skills, John Swinney MSP, that are (at least in part) on the subject of the 2020 SQA Awards. I would like this information from 25 July to 20 August.
  • Any correspondence (including letters, emails, text messages or phone calls) between the Cabinet Secretary for Education & Skills, John Swinney MSP, and the SQA, on the subject of curriculum changes for the 2020/21 academic year. I would like this information from 20 August 2020 to 15 September 2020.
  • Any correspondence (including letters, emails, text messages or phone calls) between the Scottish Government and the SQA, on the subject of curriculum changes for the 2020/21 academic year. I would like this information from 20 August 2020 to 15 September 2020.


Please find attached a response to your request.
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 an exemption under section 25(1) (information publicly available), 29(1)(a) (policy development), or 38(1)(b) (personal information) of FOISA applies to that information.

Some of the information you have requested is available from the Scottish Parliament website:

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 listed, then please contact me again and I will send you a paper copy.

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 applies to some of the information you have requested. Section 29(1)(a) applies to information which is exempt as it relates to policy development.

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 need for open and transparent government. However, this is outweighed by the public interest in allowing a space for continuing development of policy relating to the delivery of the 2021 SQA exam diet. While the information has contributed to the development of an overarching policy position, announced by the Deputy First Minister on 7 October 2020, it also relates to the ongoing development of how that policy will be brought into effect and therefore it is in the public interest for this to be withheld in order to do so.

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FoI-202000087831 - 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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