Information

South Lanarkshire College governance and whistleblowing complaints: FOI release

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


Information requested

1. Given the Scottish Government’s intervention in 2015 in relation to the governance crisis in Clyde College, why has no action been taken in relation to the governance crisis in South Lanarkshire College, which is presented regularly in the press as a blight on the college sector in terms of governance failings?

2. You have confirmed that the Scottish Government is in receipt of whistleblowing complaints from South Lanarkshire College.
1) How many have been received?
2) What was the subject of the respective complaints?
3) Please provide Copies (redacted as necessary).

3. Please can you confirm what action the Scottish Government taking in response to these complaints?

Response

1. Given the Scottish Government’s intervention in 2015 in relation to the governance crisis in Clyde College, why has no action been taken in relation to the governance crisis in South Lanarkshire College, which is presented regularly in the press as a blight on the college sector in terms of governance failings?

1. We are aware of the ongoing situation at South Lanarkshire College (SLC). The paramount interest of the Scottish Government and Scottish Ministers is safeguarding the quality of learning, the public investment made in Scotland’s colleges, and high standards of governance. All Further Education Institutions must comply with the terms of their Financial Memorandum with the Scottish Funding Council (SFC), and the Code of Good Governance for Scotland’s Colleges. The Scottish Government expects the highest standards of propriety from organisations which receive public funding.

The Scottish Funding Council (SFC) commissioned an independent review of governance and relationships at SLC, and the conclusion of that review set out key findings and recommendations in relation to governance improvements, including complaints handling and relationships. The SFC has since been working with key parties to ensure that these recommendations are implemented.

It is for the South Lanarkshire College Board, supported by the Regional Strategic Body, to take forward the independent investigation, and it is appropriate to allow those investigations and procedures to take place and conclude.

The SFC also continues to monitor the situation and provide updates to the Scottish Government as required.

2. You have confirmed that the Scottish Government is in receipt of whistleblowing complaints from South Lanarkshire College.
1) How many have been received?
2) What was the subject of the respective complaints?
3) Please provide Copies (redacted as necessary).


2. 1) There has been one whistleblowing communication, under the terms of the Public Interest Disclosure Act 1998, received by the Scottish Government from employees at South Lanarkshire College.

2) The subject of this whistleblowing communication regards concerns about governance and financial management at South Lanarkshire College, as well as alleged personal mistreatment by individuals.

3) An exemption under section 38(1)(b) of FOISA applies to all of the information you have requested because it is personal data of a third party, and disclosure would risk the identification of the individual concerned, in contravention of the data protection principles in Article 5(1) of the General Data Protection Regulation, and 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.

3. Please can you confirm what action the Scottish Government taking in response to these complaints?

3. In terms of section 43E of the Employment Rights Act 1996, a qualifying disclosure may be made to a minister of the Crown where the worker`s employer (SLC) is a body any of whose members are appointed by Ministers of the Crown. A person may make a qualifying disclosure to a prescribed person.

The Scottish Government is not a prescribed person. It is expected that a person who makes a qualifying disclosure to a prescribed person will identify the appropriate body to whom to disclose an alleged failure, as the body with the regulatory remit or powers to remedy or address the failure. The decision on whether a person has made a qualifying disclosure is a matter for an employment tribunal, not the Scottish Government or Ministers.

We do not consider that the whistleblowing disclosure sent to the Scottish Government amounts to a qualifying disclosure in terms of the Employment Law Act 1996. In any event, qualifying disclosures under the Act do not require the Scottish Government or Scottish Ministers to investigate or take action, however they do protect the individuals concerned from detriment by their employer.

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.

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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