2009 Case studies

The Commissioner closed 166 cases with a decision during 2009. A small selection of these cases are detailed in this section. For full details of all decisions issued over the course of the year, click here.

A campaigning tool in action

Sandy Longmuir, Scottish Rural Schools Network, explains how Scotland's freedom of information laws have helped in campaigns against school closures across Scotland.

The Scottish Rural Schools Network (SRSN) has used FOI in a number of successful campaigns against school closures. The group, which comprises parents from rural communities across Scotland, formed in 2005 – the year that FOI came into force. Since then, it has made regular use of the 'right to information'.

Information sought by the group includes details of schools that are being considered for closure, the arguments presented by officials to councillors and, in particular, the economic case made for closure of some rural schools. In most cases the SRSN receives the information it asks for, either at first request stage or on review, although it has occasionally brought appeals to the Commissioner.

In one 2009 decision issued by the Commissioner – Mr Bruce Pattullo and Angus Council – the Commissioner found that some, but not all, of the requested information held in relation to a school closure should be disclosed. This information was subsequently used by the SRSN in their evidence to the Parliamentary Committee considering the Schools (Consultation)(Scotland) Bill, where it was presented in support of their argument that certain types of information should be made available to parents during the consultation process. Following the SRSN's evidence, this aspect of the Bill was strengthened at stage 3.

To hear members of the SRSN talking about their experiences using FOI, click on the video above.

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