Introduction And Background To The Consultation
The Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002 ('the Act') provides a statutory right of access to information held by Scottish public authorities. The Scottish Government supports freedom of information as an essential part of open democratic government and responsive public services.
As part of its commitment to freedom of information the Scottish Government seeks to keep the legislation under review proposing reform as and when considered necessary. A key element in ensuring Scotland's freedom of information legislation remains effective is in ensuring that coverage of the Act is up-to-date and reflects the changes in the way in which public services are provided.
Following consultation  , the Scottish Parliament agreed to extend coverage of the Act to a range of organisations, including grant-aided and independent special schools. These schools became subject to freedom of information legislation from 1 September 2016.
Responses to the consultation raised a number of concerns about the practical and administrative resource implications of extending coverage to these various schools. Specifically, given the statutory requirement to respond to freedom of information requests and reviews within 20 working days, the impact of school holiday periods on the school's ability to comply with this obligation.
For example, the collective response from the grant-aided special schools noted the difficulties of school holiday periods; Harmeny Education Trust Ltd requested clarification regarding the definition of 'working day' (the same point being made by The Royal Blind School and the Scottish Council of Independent Schools) with the Scottish Centre for Children with Motor Impairments ( SCCMI) noting that due to their 'term-time only structure' complying with a 20 working day deadline would not always be possible.
The Scottish Government therefore decided to consult on proposals varying the period of time by which a response (or review response) must be issued  .
This formal response paper follows this consultation exercise.
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