FOI Request - Review of BME Teacher Information
Re: FOI 101002138507
The 9th May FOI response sent by the Council refused to answer one of our questions (Q8) which requested information on the number of leavers, by ethnicity, for all teaching posts for each year. The reason given by the Council was:
In accordance with section 17 of the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002 please be advised that this information is not recorded.
We are dissatisfied with this response as this information (retention data) is required to be annually collected and used under the Public Sector Equality Duties. According to the EHRC’s technical guidance on the legal obligations of Scottish public authorities:
Regulation 6 requires a listed authority to take steps to gather information on the composition of its employees and on the recruitment, development and retention of individuals (including applicants who are not offered employment) with respect to their number and relevant protected characteristics. It also requires the listed authority to use this information to better perform the equality duty, and to publish a breakdown of information gathered and details of the progress made in gathering and using that information to better perform the equality duty. (Explanatory note to the specific duty regulations, p. 151 of the guidance)
As such, we believe this data should be collected in an accessible format that allows the Council and Education Authority to monitor its levels of representation in all sectors of its workforce, particularly as the Council is also required to publish annual information in its mainstreaming report.
We ask that the Council review its decision regarding this question, particularly in light of the requirements of the Public Sector Equality Duties, and provide us with the requested data, or, in the absence of the requested data, explain how the Council is meeting its legal requirements.
[Additionally, regarding the redaction of '0' figures]:
We would take the position that redacting for 0 does not lead to any identifiable personal information, and prohibits us from conducting meaningful analysis on the percentages of BME representation. Moray Council was the only council to take this approach to redactions (including zero in the redacted figures).
Following your request for a review of our response to the FOI you submitted, BME Teacher Information - 101002138507, a review meeting was held at the Council offices on 20th June 2019. In attendance were the Acting Records and Heritage Manager, Senior Solicitor, Human Resources Manager, Senior HR Advisor and Information Co-ordinator.
The Council’s use of section 17 of the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002 (information not held) to your original question 8 was discussed, this was due to the information not being routinely monitored. However, upon investigation it was found that the requested information is held and we have been able to locate figures for a response, provided below. Please accept our sincere apologies that this not provided in our original response.
• All white groups - 58
• All non-white groups - 0
• All unknown or not specified – 180
• All white groups - 53
• All non-white groups - 0
• All unknown or not specified – 159
NB – the data given is only for those teachers who chose to fill out the diversity questionnaire when applying for a position, as this is optional not all applicants who apply choose to give this data.
The meeting went on to discuss the Council’s redaction of ‘zeros’ in our response to questions 1, 2, 3, 5, 6 and 7. It is the Council’s practice to withhold numbers of 5 or less due to the increased risk of identifying individuals. The reason this was applied to zeros in addition to whole numbers was to protect in case of any change from one year to the next, were we to be asked the same question again. While there could be a risk of an individual being identified in the future from the disclosure of the zeros in this response, it was agreed that the risk was not so great as to prevent disclosure in this instance. The Council therefore overturns its original decision to apply section 38(1)(b) to ‘zero’ figures and has provided an updated response shown above.