Letter to local authorities on teacher numbers: FOI release

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

Information requested

Jenny Gilruth said she has written to local authorities regarding a fall in teacher numbers and a warning ringfenced funding for this may be recouped. Please send me this letter.

Please also send me any responses received from local authorities between now and 11 January 2024 when this FOI is due for. 


I enclose a copy of a copy of the letter Sam Anson sent to local authorities on the Cabinet Secretary's behalf.

Under section 15 of FOISA the Scottish Government has an obligation to advise and assist requesters. In line with that obligation, I should explain that under FOISA the Scottish Government can only consider requests for information which is already held by the authority at the time the request is received. We are not required to consider requests for information yet to be created at the time the request was made. Any responses from local authorities could therefore only fall within the scope of your request if they had been received by the Scottish Government prior to your request on 12 December.

No responses from local authorities had in fact been received by that time. Therefore, the Scottish Government does not hold any information within scope of your request. This is a formal notice under section 17(1) of FOISA that the Scottish Government does not have the information you have requested.

I apologise if this approach appears unhelpful. However, section 1(4) of FOISA sets out that the information to be provided by an authority is that held by it at the time the request is received. Were the Scottish Government to consider information not held by it at the time of your request, this may affect your statutory rights of review and appeal to the Scottish Information Commissioner, should you be dissatisfied with the decisions made by the Scottish Government regarding the release of that information. It is important therefore that I adequately explain to you the basis on which we have considered your request.

I am happy to confirm that the Scottish Government has now received a number of responses from local authorities. It is of course open to you to make a new request under FOISA for sight of those responses. The Scottish Government will consider any such request in line with its obligations under FOISA. In line with our obligation to provide advice and assistance I consider that I should highlight that at the current time the responses from local authorities are being actively considered by Scottish Government officials in order to develop the Scottish Government’s position and to advise Ministers.

FOISA makes provision to protect the private space officials require to deliberate and advise Ministers, and also to have free and frank engagement with external stakeholders, including local authorities. Our need to protect that necessary private space may limit how much information we would be able to provide while the substance of the responses is still being actively considered. However, we would consider any new request for information based on the information held and circumstances prevailing at the time of the request.

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.

FOI 202300389149 - Information Released - Annex


Please quote the FOI reference
Central Enquiry Unit
Email: ceu@gov.scot
Phone: 0300 244 4000

The Scottish Government
St Andrews House
Regent Road

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