Information

Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) independent review: FOI release

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


Information requested

Details of all meetings, virtual or in person, held from the point at which Scottish Government officials or representatives received a draft form of the OECD Independent Review of Curriculum for Excellence in which this report was discussed. Please include details of the meeting scheduled for Monday 15 February, as referred to in the Freedom of Information request referenced 20200120882.

Please include dates, times and durations, copies of correspondence to organise, details of all attendees included in these meetings, the minutes and/or other records from those meetings and copies of any correspondence that followed.

Response

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 38(1) (b) of FOISA (Personal data).
Section 30(c) of FOISA (substantial prejudice to effective conduct of public affairs).

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 Iindividuals, 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 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 Review of curriculum for Excellence.

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.

You have specifically asked for details to the meeting scheduled for Monday 15 February which was referenced in the reply to Freedom of Information request 20200120882. This meeting was a potential date for the Scottish Practitioner Forum to meet. This meeting did not go ahead as it fell during the school holiday period, meaning that a significant number of its members were unavailable. It took place on 11 March 2021 and therefore does not fall within the in scope of this request. However, to be helpful, I have included the agenda in the list of enclosures. The note of that meeting is still in draft form and cannot be released at present.

About FOI
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.

FOI202100166439 - Information released

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
EH1 3DG

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