GTC Scotland

The General Teaching Council for Scotland

Freedom of Information

 

The Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002 came into force on 1st January 2005.

It is intended to promote a culture of openness and accountability amongst public sector bodies and provides a general right of access to all types of recorded information held by public authorities, including GTC Scotland.

Read our policy on how GTCS handles requests for information under the Freedom of information (Scotland) Act 2002 here:

Freedom of Information FAQs

The Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002 (FOISA) gives you the right to request and be given information held by public sector organisations and some other organisations that provide public services. These organisations are collectively known as “Public Authorities” and are defined under Schedule 1 of FOISA. GTC Scotland is included in Schedule 1 as a Public Authority.

FOISA details what will constitute a ‘valid’ request. Your request for information must be deemed a valid request before we can consider it.

If your request does not contain the required information i.e. is not a valid request, a member of GTC Scotland Information Compliance Team will contact you to request that you provide further information.

It 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.

It must include contact details: your name and an address for correspondence, this can be 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.

It must 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 further. You are not required to provide an explanation of why you are requesting the information.

For further information on how to make a request, please take some time to review the Scottish Information Commissioner’s FOISA guidance.

GTC Scotland will acknowledge receipt of your request within two working days of receiving it, to confirm whether your request is deemed a valid request and if so, that this will be being dealt with under FOISA. GTC Scotland will then process your request and you will receive a full response as quickly as possible and in any event not 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;
    • The information you have requested is your personal information. For this we would apply a FOISA exemption notifying you that we are required to treat your request as a Data Protection Subject Access request. If the information you request is personal information relating to a third party we would consider this request under FOISA and we may be required to apply an exemption. This would be fully explained in our response;
    • Your request is a repeat of a previous request and we have previously provided the information to you;
    • An exemption has been applied – this will be fully explained in our response;
    • We are unable to provide you with the information in the format that you have requested. We would inform you of the format in which we were able to provide the information and discuss reaching an amicable conclusion to enable you to receive the information; or
    • 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. There may be circumstances in which, under FOISA, we are unable to give you a full explanation as to why we are unable to provide you with information. In these circumstances, we will provide you with as much information that we are able to under FOISA.

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. Examples of information GTC Scotland has previously provided to FOISA requests include:

  • Information relating to registration statistics, for example, the number of teachers registered to teach a specific subject such as Physical Education
  • Information about the Teacher Induction Scheme and probationer programmes
  • Information about services such as telephony and facilities management
  • Statistical information about Professional Learning
  • Information about the history of GTC Scotland
  • Requests for GTC Scotland policies

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 to disclose to you as it falls under the exemptions included in FOISA. Information which 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.
  • Information that is not held by GTC Scotland.
  • 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.
  • Information is required to be created in order to give explanations or advice.

A number of the exemptions that we may consider 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 realised 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 has a Records Management Policy and Records Retention schedule which all GTC Scotland staff are required to adhere to. As a result, it may be that the information you have requested is no longer held by GTC Scotland. If this is the case, we will apply the relevant exemption and explain this within our response to you.

GTC Scotland will only issue a Fee Notice if the amount of time or resource required to provide the information is significant.

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 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.
  • 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 from GTC Scotland, you have 40 working days from the 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.

GTC Scotland will ensure that where possible your review will be conducted by a different member of the team which prepared the response to your initial request. You will receive a response within 20 working days of your request for review.

The review will consider whether:

  • the original response is considered to have been appropriate and provided a suitable response to the request for information;
  • further information should have been provided to you; or
  • an amended response should be provided to you due to the original response having not been dealt with appropriately.

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 six months of receiving our response to your request for a review. Find out how to make an appeal to the Scottish Information Commissioner.

Please send written requests to:

Information Compliance Team
General Teaching Council for Scotland
Clerwood House
96 Clermiston Road
Edinburgh, EH12 6UT

Email: foi@gtcs.org.uk

Publication Scheme

The Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002 (the Act) requires GTC Scotland as a Scottish public authority 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 Information 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 easily
  • 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

If you require further information please contact Suzanne Valente, Information Compliance Officer, on 0131 314 6053 or foi@gtcs.org.uk.

Requests for Information

Any information not made available through our publication scheme can be requested under the Freedom of Information Act (2002), subject to certain exemptions. An example of this might be where information is covered by the Data Protection Act 1998 or where information is of a commercially sensitive nature.

If you are making an FOI request you may find it helpful to view the following website for tips on how to structure an enquiry that gets all of the information you require:

If you require further information please contact Suzanne Valente, Information Compliance Officer, on 0131 314 6053 or foi@gtcs.org.uk.

To submit an FOI request please contact foi@gtcs.org.uk.