Information

Communications with Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA) regarding exam support materials: FOI release

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


Information requested

All communication between the Scottish Government (specifically ministers, special advisers, communications/PR staff and staff from the learning directorate) and the SQA regarding or relating to the exam support materials.

The time frame for this request is 1 Jan 2022 to present.

Response

I attach a copy of the information you requested.

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 sections 30(b)(ii) (free and frank exchange of views for the purposes of deliberation) or 38(1)(b) (personal information) of FOISA applies to that information.

Exemptions under section 30(b)(ii) of FOISA (free and frank 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, as part of relationships which remain vital in supporting the delivery of qualifications through the Covid-19 pandemic.

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 Ministers and officials a private space within which issues can be explored and refined to enable the Government as a whole to reach a decision that is sound and likely to be effective, particularly while the importance of the advice from these relationships continues to have a bearing on how qualifications are affected by Covid-19 going forward. This private thinking space also allows for all options to be properly considered, so that good decisions can be taken.

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. names and contact details, 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.

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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