Publication - FOI/EIR release

Investigation into grade changes: FOI release

Published: 13 Jul 2021

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

Published:
13 Jul 2021
Investigation into grade changes: FOI release
FOI reference: FOI/202100215321
Date received: 18 Jun 2021
Date responded: 9 Jul 2021
Information requested

1. Please release all communication between the education secretary and Education Scotland staff regarding the investigation that Ms Somerville described.

2. Please release all communication (including attachments) held by Education Scotland relating to the investigation that Ms Somerville described. This will, I presume, include communications with councils and/or schools attempting to ascertain what is going on.

3. Please release all documents held by Education Scotland detailing the results of the investigation that Ms Somerville described.

The time frame for all three requests is 01/04/2021 - present (although I expect that most, and perhaps all, materials will in fact be much more recent than this).

Response

1. Attached Annex A will provide you with the information regarding communications between the education secretary and Education Scotland relating to the investigation into grade changes as part of the Alternative Certification Model (ACM) 2021.

However, 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 exemptions under sections 30(b)(i) (free and frank provision of advice) and 30(b)(ii) (free and frank exchange of views) of FOISA applies to that information. The reason why these exemptions apply is explained below.

Exemptions under sections 30(b)(i) and 30(b)(ii) of FOISA (free and frank provision of advice and exchange of views) apply to some of the information requested. These exemptions apply because disclosure would, or would be likely to, inhibit substantially the free and frank provision of advice and exchange of views for the purposes of deliberation. These exemptions recognise the need for officials to have a private space within which to seek advice and views from other officials before reaching the settled public position. Disclosing the content would substantially inhibit the provision of such advice and the exchange of views in the future.

These exemptions are 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 exemptions. We have found that, on balance, the public interest lies in favour of upholding the exemptions. 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 a private space within which officials can provide free and frank advice and views to other officials.

2/3. Annex B,C and D will provide you with the information regarding the communications (including attachments) held by Education Scotland relating to the investigation into grade changes as part of ACM 2021.

However, 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 38(1)(b) (personal information) of FOISA applies to that information. The reason why that exemption applies is explained below.

An exemption under section 38(1)(b) of FOISA (personal information) applies to some information which has been redacted from the enclosed documents. This exemption applies because the information is personal data of a third
party, i.e. names 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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FOI202100215321 - Annex A,B,C&D

39 page PDF
1.6 MB

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