- 19 Feb 2021
Date received: 7 Dec 2020
Date responded: 8 Jan 2021
1. A copy of any submissions (evidence, reports, opinions or similar) received to date by the Scottish Government or National Coordinator, sent to them for the purposes of being passed to the OECD, which were returned to the sender without being considered by the OECD (either not referred to the OECD, or referred to the OECD but not considered as part of its review).
2. A copy of the correspondence received, the response sent (including any further follow up correspondence or complaints), and any discussions surrounding this between the Scottish Government and OECD.
3. A copy of the initial evidence pack provided to the OECD by the Scottish Government.
Attached are a copy of some of the information you requested.
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 applies under:
Section 27(1) (information intended for future publication).
Section 38(1) (b) (Personal data).
Section 25 (1) of FOISA (Information already publicly available)
Section 30(c) of FOISA (prejudice to effective conduct of public affairs
An exemption under section 27(1) of FOISA applies to some of the information you have requested.
Under section 27(1) of FOISA, as the Draft Evidence Base submitted to the OECD as part of the Review of Curriculum for Excellence is intended to be published by 16 February 2021, which is within 12 weeks of the date of your request, we consider that it is reasonable to withhold the information until then, rather than release this information before the planned publication date.
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 importance of the Review of Curriculum for Excellence however; there is a greater public interest in taking the time necessary to ensure the information has been properly collated and formatted before it is published as planned.
Some of the information you have requested is publicly available on Reform Scotland’s website (the written submission referred to in Enclosure 1). Under section 25(1) of FOISA, we do not have to give you information which is already reasonably accessible to you. However, for ease, a hyperlink to this information has been provided within Enclosure 1.
An exemption under section 30(c) (substantial prejudice to effective conduct of public affairs) of FOISA applies to some of the information you have requested. It is essential for officials to be able to communicate, often in confidence, with external stakeholders on a range of issues, including the OECD Independent Review of Curriculum for Excellence. Disclosing the content of these communications, particularly without the consent of the stakeholder, is likely to undermine their trust in the Scottish Government and will substantially inhibit communications on this type of issue in the future.
These stakeholders will be reluctant to provide their views fully and frankly, if they believe that their views are likely to be made public, particularly while these discussions relate to a sensitive or controversial issue such as the ongoing review of the curriculum.
This would significantly harm the Government’s ability to carry out many aspects of its work, and could adversely affect its ability to gather all of the evidence it needs to make fully informed policies.
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 allowing officials a private space within which to communicate with appropriate external stakeholders as part of the process of exploring and refining the Government’s policy position on, and engagement with, the OECD Independent Review of the Curriculum for Excellence. This private space is essential to enable all options to be properly considered, so that good policy decisions can be taken based on fully informed advice and evidence, such as that provided by the OECD.
Premature disclosure is likely to undermine the full and frank discussion of issues between the Scottish Government and these stakeholders, which in turn will undermine the quality of the review, which would not be in the public interest.
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.
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.
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Please quote the FOI reference
Central Enquiry Unit
Phone: 0300 244 4000
The Scottish Government
St Andrews House