Publication - FOI/EIR release

Minutes and material with Cabinet Secretary for Education & Skills regarding Higher Qualifications: FOI release

Published: 25 Feb 2021

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

Published:
25 Feb 2021
Minutes and material with Cabinet Secretary for Education & Skills regarding Higher Qualifications: FOI release
FOI reference: FOI/202000121891
Date received: 9 Dec 2020
Date responded: 27 Jan 2021
Information requested

Minutes of any meetings involving the Cabinet Secretary for Education & Skills, John Swinney MSP, regarding Higher or Advanced Higher National Qualifications in 2020-21. Please could I also have any briefing material issued for these meetings. I would like this information from 20 November 2020 to 4 December 2020.

Response

I attach  a copy 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.

On the date your request was received, 9 December 2020, some of the information requested was due to be published on 26 January 2020 and was therefore due to be withheld under section 27(1). However, I wish to confirm that at the time of providing your response, this information has indeed now been published and is accessible via https://www.gov.scot/groups/covid-19-education-recovery-group/ and is therefore now exempt under section 25(1). 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 30(c) of FOISA (prejudice to effective conduct of public affairs) applies to some of the information requested. Disclosing this information would substantially prejudice our ability to conduct secure meetings by teleconference because we would not be able to reuse links, IDs and passcodes, or use similar ones, with confidence if that information were published. This would constitute substantial prejudice to the effective conduct of public affairs in terms of the exemption.

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. While we recognise that there is a public interest in disclosing information as part of open, transparent and accountable government, this is outweighed by the public interest in maintaining secure lines of remote communication to ensure that the Scottish Government is able to conduct its business effectively.

An exemption under section 38(1)(b) of FOISA applies to some of the information you have requested because it is personal data of a third party, i.e. names and 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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Contact

Please quote the FOI reference
Central Enquiry Unit
Email: ceu@gov.scot
Phone: 0300 244 4000

The Scottish Government
St Andrews House
Regent Road
Edinburgh
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