Advisory sub-group on Education and Children’s issues: FOI release

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


Information requested

On 5th October 2021, the Advisory Sub-Group on Education and Children’s Issues met and subsequently recommended that children in secondary schools could remove masks while seated in class.

I understand that draft guidance to that effect was subsequently drawn up by the Scottish Government and this draft guidance was then put out to consultation.

Under the Freedom of Information Act, I would like to request the following information:

1) a list of all stakeholders who were consulted

2) copies of all correspondence, minutes of meetings, notes, emails and any other information that was sent between the Scottish Government and all stakeholders who were consulted on this draft guidance (including, but not limited to, the EIS and other teaching unions). This should cover the time period between the draft guidance being drawn up and Tuesday 19th October 2021.

Response

1. Under Section 25(1) of FOISA, we do not have to give you information which is already reasonably accessible to you.

The Covid-19 Education Recovery Group (CERG) were consulted on the draft guidance. You can find a detailed list of the members of the group, their remit and previous meeting minutes on the Scottish Government website here. In addition we consulted other staff unions and professional associations who are not represented on the CERG, namely: the Scottish Secondary Teachers Association, Unite, NASUWT, GMB, and Voice.

2. I have included a copy of the requested information in Annex A. These email exchanges correlate with draft guidance formulated in word. I have attached this document as Annex B.

This includes a copy of the email exchanges between Scottish Government officials and teaching unions/other CERG members regarding the draft guidance. These exchanges include a draft version of the guidance with comments received from a range of professionals which I have included as a separate attachment.

To note that the guidance you have requested relates to changes that did not come into effect. We have published Coronavirus (COVID-19): guidance on reducing the risks in schools which includes information to help schools ensure a low-risk environment for learning and teaching. The published guidance is what we expect schools to use.

On reviewing the email exchanges, some exemptions have been applied in line with the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002.

The exemptions applied in this instance were:
A small amount of information has been redacted from the documents disclosed under section 38(1)(b) (personal information) of FOISA. This exemption applies because the information is personal data of a third party, i.e. 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.

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.

FOI202100253392 - Annex A

FOI202100253392 - Annex B

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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