FOI22/23 161 Membership of National Qualifications Strategic Group

Date published: 03/05/2023

FOI reference: 22/23 161

Date received: 31/03/2023

Date responded: 02/05/2023

Information requested

* I would like to see in full the minutes of all meetings relating to the consultation of teachers in the Secondary Schools sector on the reinstatement of the Assignment in National 5, Higher and Advanced Higher Music.

* I wish to know the results for all questions in the survey relating to the consultation on the reinstatement of the Assignment in National 5, Higher and Advanced Higher Music.

* How many Music teachers took part in this survey?

* Of those who took part in the survey, how many wished for the Assignment to be reinstated in its entirety at Nat 5 level?

* Of those who took part in the survey, how many wished for the Assignment to be reinstated in its entirety at Higher level?

* Of those who took part in the survey, how many wished for the Assignment to be reinstated in its entirety at Advanced Higher Level?

* Of those who took part in the survey, how many did not wish for the Assignment to be reinstated at Nat 5 level?

* Of those who took part in the survey, how many did not wish for the Assignment to be reinstated at Higher Level?

* Of those who took part in the survey, how many did not wish for the Assignment to be reinstated at Advanced Higher Level?

* Of those who took part in the survey, how many wished for the composing element to be reinstated, but for the review to be dropped at Nat 5 level?

* Of those who took part in the survey, how many wished for the composing element to be reinstated, but for the review to be dropped at Higher level?

* Of those who took part in the survey, how many wished for the composing element to be reinstated, but for the review to be dropped at Advanced Higher level?

* Did SQA consider gradually reinstating the Assignment beginning with Nat 5 for the 2024 course followed by the Higher course in 2025 and the Advanced Higher in 2026?

Response

As required under Section 17 of FOISA, if we do not hold information requested, we must advise you accordingly.

SQA did not systematically collect evidence on specific subjects, so it is not possible to provide feedback at this level of granularity. SQA drew on survey responses and a range of other evidence to inform the decision to return to full course assessment as set out in the attached papers.

With respect to the final question, yes a phased return was considered but as the main reason for returning to full course assessment is to ensure that learners are as well prepared for progression as possible, it was not considered appropriate.

The attached documents provide the information requested. However, information relating to the results of the evaluation have been redacted under section 27(1(a)Information intended for future publication

(1)        Information is exempt information if—

(a) it is held with a view to its being published by—

(i) a Scottish public authority; or

(ii) any other person,

at a date not later than twelve weeks after that on which the request for the information is made;

(b) when that request is made the information is already being held with that view; and

(c) it is reasonable in all the circumstances that the information be withheld from disclosure until such date as is mentioned in paragraph (a).

It is stated in the document dated 10 February 2023 that the full results of the evaluation will be published in March 2023. Unfortunately, the publication of this has been delayed and it is now intended to be published within 12 weeks of receipt of the request, in early summer.

However, we consider the survey responses to be exempt under section 30(c) of the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002, which states:

30 Prejudice to effective conduct of public affairs

Information is exempt information if its disclosure under this Act—

(a) would, or would be likely to, prejudice substantially the maintenance of the convention of the collective responsibility of the Scottish Ministers;

(b) would, or would be likely to, inhibit substantially—

(i) the free and frank provision of advice; or

(ii) the free and frank exchange of views for the purposes of deliberation; or

(c) would otherwise prejudice substantially, or be likely to prejudice substantially, the effective conduct of public affairs.

In October 2022 SQA began an evaluation of the arrangements for National Courses in 2022-2023. This involved an initial survey. The main objective was to understand how the modifications to assessment had impacted on learners and practitioners. A short summary of the results of the survey is contained within the Modifications documents dated February 2023. 

The survey provided the opportunity for respondents to provide feedback on how modifications to assessment had impacted on learners and practitioners. It also provided the opportunity to comment in a confidential and anonymous manner. We consider all responses were received with the expectation that they would be treated confidentially, and any potentially identifying information would not be released. If the responses were to be made public and any individual was to be able to be identified it would undermine the confidence that respondents have in expressing views and could diminish participation in future surveys. This would substantially prejudice the conduct of public affairs both to relationships with and trust between SQA and respondents and would adversely affect the ability of the SQA to conduct future surveys.

We accept that when applying a section 30 exemption, a public authority is obliged to undertake a public interest test.

It is considered that there may be a public interest in the comments being disclosed as this would show openness, transparency and accountability in the process. However, it is believed that, on balance, this is outweighed by the public interest in maintaining the exemption. It is important that the SQA is permitted to carry out its affairs effectively, which includes being able to obtain the honest opinions and comments of respondents. The summary data contained within the Modifications document provides a lot of information relating to the survey. Also, it is stated in the Modifications document from February 2023 that the full results of the evaluation will be published in March 2023. Unfortunately the publication of this has been delayed and it is now likely to be in June 2023.

Accordingly, the public interest in disclosing the information is outweighed by maintaining the exemption.

In compiling this response, SQA has also considered a previous decision made by the Scottish Information Commissioner which ruled on a request made to the Edinburgh Napier University for a University Staff Engagement Survey in 2018. The full decision notice is available at the Scottish Information Commissioner’s website at the following link:

Decision 007/2019 (itspublicknowledge.info)

Documents:

files_ccc/foi-22-23-161-9-1-nq-23-notes-20230210-redacted.pdf (143 KB)

files_ccc/foi-22-23-161-advc-86-02-i-advisory-council-minute-12-jan-2023-draft-redacted.pdf (112 KB)

files_ccc/foi-22-23-161-advisory-council-modifications-20230111.pdf (133 KB)

files_ccc/foi-22-23-161-nqsg-23-modifications-2023-050223-v3-redacted.pdf (133 KB)