Freedom of Information
The Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002 (FOISA) is intended to promote a culture of openness and accountability among public sector bodies.
It provides a general right of access to all types of recorded information held by public authorities, including GTC Scotland.
FOISA requires GTC Scotland to produce and maintain a publication scheme.
GTC Scotland has adopted the Scottish Information Commissioner’s Model Publication Scheme 2015 and has produced a guide to:
- help you see what information we make available about who we are, what we do and how we do it
- state what charges may be applied when we provide a publication to you
- explain how to find the information we publish
- provide contact details for enquiries and to get help with accessing the information
- explain how to request information we hold that has not been published
Requests for information
Any information not made available through our publication scheme can be requested under FOISA, subject to certain exemptions.
If you are making an FOI request you may find it helpful to view the Scottish Information Commissioner’s website for tips on how to structure a request.
How do I make a FOISA request?
Your request for information must be deemed a valid request by FOISA before we can consider it.
If your request does not contain the required information i.e. is not a valid request, GTC Scotland will contact you to request that you provide further information.
A valid request must:
Be in writing: this can be via letter, email or fax. Requests made via Social Media are valid if they contain the required information, as detailed below.
Include contact details: your name and an address for correspondence, either email or postal. The requester can be an individual, a company or an organisation but in each case, a real name must be provided. A request made under a pseudonym will be invalid.
Be clear: a clear description of the information being requested must be provided.
The description must enable GTC Scotland to distinguish the information you request from other information held.
If it is unclear what information you are seeking then GTC Scotland will contact you to discuss your request.
You are not required to provide an explanation of why you are requesting the information.
GTC Scotland will acknowledge receipt of your request, confirm whether your request is deemed a valid request and if so, that this will be being dealt with under FOISA.
We will process your request and you will receive a response no later than the 20th working day from receipt of the request. The first working day of your request is the day after the date on which GTC Scotland receives it.
Our reply will either:
- Provide all of the information you have requested;
- Issue a Fees Notice: where there is a charge applied for providing the information you have requested; or
- Issue a Refusal Notice – this will provide you with an explanation as to why we have refused to provide you with all or any part of the information you have requested for example:
- GTC Scotland does not hold the information that you have requested;
- We believe that your request is “vexatious” or clearly intended to cause disruption to the work of GTC Scotland rather than being a genuine request for information.
FOISA covers information that is held and recorded by GTC Scotland.
There may be information that is requested which is not recorded or is no longer held by GTC Scotland and so this will not be provided.
If you would like to receive your personal information, then this should be done through what is known as a Subject Access Request under the Data Protection Act 2018.
Further information on Subject Access Requests can be found in the UK Information Commissioners Office guidance.
There is some information that we may not disclose to you as it falls under the exemptions included in FOISA.
Information that we may deem to be exempt and therefore will not be provided to you in response to your requests include (among other things):
- Information that is available elsewhere, such as on the GTC Scotland website.
- Documentation relating to ongoing Fitness to Teach investigations/hearings.
- Personal information about any member of GTC Scotland staff or Council or any other living identifiable individual.
- Legal advice which has been received by GTC Scotland from our legal advisers.
- Commercially sensitive information.
- Information that is no longer held under our Records Management Policy and Records Retention Schedule.
A number of the exemptions are also subject to a public interest test.
This means that we must consider the balance of the rights of the public knowing the content of the information against any potential harm that may be caused by releasing the information into the public domain.
When information is released to an individual under FOISA, it is deemed to be disclosed to the general public and therefore we must carefully consider the effects of public disclosure.
GTC Scotland will only issue a Fee Notice if the amount of time or resource required to provide the information is significant.
If the cost to locate, gather and provide this information is less than £100, GTC Scotland will provide its response to the request, including the information, free of charge.
FOISA permits a Public Authority, like GTC Scotland, to issue a fees notice only under certain circumstances.
GTC Scotland must consider issuing a fees notice if:
- The cost is £101 – £600, we will issue you with a fees notice for 10% of total cost.
- The cost of providing the information is in excess of £600 we will issue a Refusal Notice along with detail of the costings and guidance on how you could consider amending the scope of your request so that it falls below the £600 threshold.
GTC Scotland will only provide the information once the fee has been paid in full.
If you are unhappy with the response you receive, you have 40 working days from receipt of our response to request that we undertake a review of the way in which we handled your request.
When making a request for review, your request must be in writing and detail why you are unhappy with the response that we provided.
We will ensure that where possible your review will be conducted by a different member of the team who prepared the response to your initial request.
You will receive a response within 20 working days of your request for review.
If you are still unhappy with the way in which GTC Scotland has handled your request and your request for a review, you have the right to appeal to the Office of the Scottish Information Commissioner.
You must do this within 6 months of receiving our response to your request for a review.
How do I contact GTC Scotland?
Please send written requests to:
Information Compliance Team
General Teaching Council for Scotland
96 Clermiston Road
Edinburgh, EH12 6UT