- 16 Aug 2021
Date received: 13 Jul 2021
Date responded: 11 Aug 2021
In relation to FOI/202100215321, released on July 9, I would like the entirety of the correspondence between Scottish Government officials and local authorities, in particular the further comments made by some officials from the authorities which were labelled "not in scope.
The information you have requested is available at 202100215321. 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 listed, then please contact me again and I will send you a paper copy.
The attached annex to this letter will provide you with the information that was previously deemed out of scope for 202100215321 which was held by 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) and 38(1)(b) (personal information) 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.
An exemption under section 38(1)(b) of FOISA (personal information) applies to some information which has been redacted from the enclosed document. 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.
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