Correspondence concerning the approval of the proposed exam moderation system: FOI release

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

Information requested

What form and when the recommendations of the SQA for the award of grades after the cancellation of exams were approved by Scottish Ministers, including the First Minister and the Scottish Cabinet. In particular did Ministers approve the proposed moderation system and on what basis ?


With regard to ministerial approval for the processes, in particular the proposed moderation system, you may wish to note that the Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA) is an executive Non-Departmental Public Body (NDPB). As such, SQA operates at arm’s length to Ministers, as set out under the Education (Scotland) Act 1996, and is responsible for making its own operational decisions.

Following the necessary cancellation of the 2020 diet, the Deputy First Minister asked the Chief Executive of SQA to develop an alternative certification model. As the detail of that model fell within SQA’s operational remit approval was neither required nor sought.

Within the enclosures redactions have been made under Section 25 and Section 38(1)(b). Some of the information you have requested is publically available, from the Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA) and Scottish Parliament websites. 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.

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.

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FOI 202000092924 - Information released


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Central Enquiry Unit
Phone: 0300 244 4000

The Scottish Government
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