Meeting minutes & attendees of the expert panel who informed the development of the future Sex and Relationships (SRE).

Response to this request is long overdue. By law, under all circumstances, Welsh Government should have responded by now (details). You can complain by requesting an internal review.

Christian Wilton-King

Dear Welsh Government,

Between March and September 2017, an expert panel, chaired by Cardiff University Professor EJ Renold, held five meetings to discuss the future of Welsh Sex and Relationships Education.

Please could you provide the following:

1. The Meeting minutes for each of those five meetings.

2. A list of attendees for each of those five meetings.

Yours faithfully,

Christian Wilton-King

Welsh Government

Dear Christian,

ATISN 16661 – Relationships and Sexuality Education (RSE)

Thank you for your request which we received on 14th September. You asked for:

Between March and September 2017, an expert panel, chaired by Cardiff University Professor EJ Renold, held five meetings to discuss the future of Welsh Sex and Relationships Education.

1. The Meeting minutes for the Expert Panel meetings, chaired by Professor EJ Reynolds for the five meetings held between March and September 2017.

2. A list of attendees for each of those five meetings.

You will receive a response by 13th October If you have any queries about this request, please do not hesitate to contact me at the address below. Please remember to quote the reference number above in any future correspondence.

Please note: the Welsh Government is facing unprecedented challenges during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. As a result resources, both finances and people, are being diverted away from many of our usual activities to deal with the pandemic. This will undoubtedly impact on our ability to comply with the normal requirements for information rights work and as a result you may experience delays when making information rights requests during the pandemic. We thank you for your understanding during this time.
The following is a link to the blog page of the Information Commissioner’s web site where you can find an article entitled “FOI and the coronavirus: a measured approach”

https://ico.org.uk/about-the-ico/news-an...

The request you sent me contains personal information about you - for example, your name and address. The Welsh Government will be the data processor for this information and, in accordance with the General Data Protection Regulation, it will be processed in order to fulfil our public task and meet our legal obligations under the Act to provide you with a response. We will only use this personal information to deal with your request and any matters which arise as a result of it. We will keep your personal information and all other information relating to your request for three years from the date on which your request is finally closed. Your personal information will then be disposed of securely.

Under data protection legislation, you have the right:

• to be informed of the personal data we hold about you and to access it
• to require us to rectify inaccuracies in that data
• to (in certain circumstances) object to or restrict processing
• for (in certain circumstances) your data to be ‘erased’
• to (in certain circumstances) data portability
• to lodge a complaint with the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) who is our independent regulator for data protection

For further information about the information which the Welsh Government holds and its use, or if you wish to exercise your rights under the GDPR, please see contact details below:

Data Protection Officer
Welsh Government
Cathays Park
CARDIFF
CF10 3NQ
Email: DataProtectionOfficer@gov.wales

The contact details for the Information Commissioner’s Office are:

Wycliffe House
Water Lane
Wilmslow
Cheshire
SK9 5AF

Telephone: 0303 123 1113
Website: www.ico.gov.uk

Any information released under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 or Environmental Information Regulations 2004 will be listed in the Welsh Government’s Disclosure Log (at https://gov.wales/about/open-government/...).

Yours sincerely

Curriculum and Assessment Division
Welsh Government

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Welsh Government

1 Attachment

Please find attached a response to your request.

Is-adran y Cwricwlwm ac Asesu / Curriculum and Assessment Division
Y Grŵp Addysg, Cyfiawnder Cymdeithasol a’r Gymraeg /Education, Social Justice and Welsh Language Group
Llywodraeth Cymru /Welsh Government

Rydym yn croesawu gohebiaeth Gymraeg. Cewch ateb Cymraeg i bob gohebiaeth Gymraeg ac ni fydd gohebu yn Gymraeg yn arwain at oedi.

We welcome correspondence in Welsh. Correspondence received in Welsh will be answered in Welsh and corresponding in Welsh will not involve any delay.

show quoted sections

Christian Wilton-King

Dear Welsh Government,

Thank you for your response.

With regards to my second request, for the 'list of attendees' for the five meetings, you pointed me to the document ‘The Future of the Sex and Relationships Education Curriculum in Wales - Recommendations of the Sex and Relationships Education Expert Panel’. However, this document (in Annexe 2), only lists the expert panel members and not the attendees of the meetings. Indeed, the document does not refer to the word 'attendees' once. so, for example, I am not able to ascertain whether the representative of Public Health Wales was present at any of the meetings. Therefore, I ask again, please could you provide me with a list of attendees for each of those five meetings?

With regards to my first request for the (five) meetings' minutes, you have refused on grounds that the "policy is still being developed" and that this is a "sensitive area with strong feeling from a range of conflicting stakeholders and individuals". To justify this you used:

'Engagement of section 35(1) (a) ‘formulation of government policy’ of the FoIA' - which states:

"As the nature of the withheld information clearly concerns policy that is still being
developed and informed by a range of stakeholders and continues to be refined
through a co-construction approach, I would suggest, the exemption is clearly
engaged."

However, the result of this development (the new Relationships and Sexuality Education curriculum) is now installed in schools across Wales with parents having had their right to withdraw children from such lessons, removed. Therefore, I would suggest that the new RSE is very much finished in its construction and is no longer being developed.

I would like to make a few more points:

1. This policy relates to every child in education in Wales, so this is very much in the public interest, for children and families to know how this policy was discussed and developed.

2. As you suggest, 'this is a sensitive area with strong feelings'. I would suggest then that this is all the more reason for the public to have access to how the policy was developed. Otherwise, withholding such information creates a culture of secrecy and regarding this particular topic, that is not a particularly good look.

3. It is in the interest of the public and the Welsh Government for you to provide reassurance that due diligence was undertaken in the process of developing the curriculum.

4. I see from a previous request about the LGBTQ+ Action Plan (for meeting minutes of a similarly contentious subject), information was provided without question. I fail to see what difference, if any, there is here.

I refuse to accept your reasons for exemption to part of my request and believe you should provide the information I requested.

I look forward to your response.

Yours faithfully,

Christian Wilton-King

Christian Wilton-King

Dear Welsh Government,

Please pass this on to the person who conducts Freedom of Information reviews.

I am writing to request an internal review of Welsh Government's handling of my FOI request 'Meeting minutes & attendees of the expert panel who informed the development of the future Sex and Relationships (SRE). The Welsh Government has failed to respond in time to my previous reply. I also requesting this review with particular focus on the public interest test, which I think has overlooked some important points in favour of disclosure.

Please read my last reply, which outlines why I feel it was wrong to use exemption 35(I) a. But just in case, I want to restate here...it is disingenuous to assert that this policy is "still being developed" and "continues to be refined through a co-construction approach" as the policy in question is now written into law and mandatory for all schools in Wales with parents being refused the right to withdraw. This policy is in place and being utilised.

Also, re my request for the meeting attendees...I was only directed to a document which listed the Expert Panel and not the attendees of each meeting.

This all needs remedying as a matter of urgency. The public deserve to know how a policy, which affects their children, was developed.

A full history of my FOI request and all correspondence is available on the Internet at this address: https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/m...

Yours faithfully,

Christian Wilton-King

Welsh Government

1 Attachment

Dear Christian,

 

Please find attached a response to your e-mail dated 11 November regarding
Internal review of Freedom of Information request.

 

Kind regards,

 

Is-adran Cwricwlwm ag Asesu / Curriculum and Assessment Division

Y Grŵp Addysg, Cyfiawnder Cymdeithasol a’r Gymraeg /Education, Social
Justice and Welsh Language Group

Llywodraeth Cymru / Welsh Government

 

 

 

Sganiwyd y neges hon am bob feirws hysbys wrth iddi adael Llywodraeth
Cymru. Mae Llywodraeth Cymru yn cymryd o ddifrif yr angen i ddiogelu eich
data. Os cysylltwch â Llywodraeth Cymru, mae ein [1]hysbysiad preifatrwydd
yn esbonio sut rydym yn defnyddio eich gwybodaeth a sut rydym yn diogelu
eich preifatrwydd. Rydym yn croesawu gohebiaeth yn Gymraeg. Byddwn yn
anfon ateb yn Gymraeg i ohebiaeth a dderbynnir yn Gymraeg ac ni fydd
gohebu yn Gymraeg yn arwain at oedi. On leaving the Welsh Government this
email was scanned for all known viruses. The Welsh Government takes the
protection of your data seriously. If you contact the Welsh Government
then our [2]Privacy Notice explains how we use your information and the
ways in which we protect your privacy. We welcome receiving correspondence
in Welsh. Any correspondence received in Welsh will be answered in Welsh
and corresponding in Welsh will not lead to a delay in responding.

References

Visible links
1. file:///tmp/”https:/gov.wales/about/welsh-government-privacy-notice/?lang=cy”
2. https://gov.wales/about/welsh-government...

Welsh Government

1 Attachment

Dear Mr Wilton-King

 

Please find attached a response with regard to the internal review request
of FOI, reference ATISN 16661. Please confirm receipt of this email. Many
thanks.

 

Kind regards

 

Curriculum and Assessment Division

Education Directorate

Welsh Government

Sganiwyd y neges hon am bob feirws hysbys wrth iddi adael Llywodraeth
Cymru. Mae Llywodraeth Cymru yn cymryd o ddifrif yr angen i ddiogelu eich
data. Os cysylltwch â Llywodraeth Cymru, mae ein [1]hysbysiad preifatrwydd
yn esbonio sut rydym yn defnyddio eich gwybodaeth a sut rydym yn diogelu
eich preifatrwydd. Rydym yn croesawu gohebiaeth yn Gymraeg. Byddwn yn
anfon ateb yn Gymraeg i ohebiaeth a dderbynnir yn Gymraeg ac ni fydd
gohebu yn Gymraeg yn arwain at oedi. On leaving the Welsh Government this
email was scanned for all known viruses. The Welsh Government takes the
protection of your data seriously. If you contact the Welsh Government
then our [2]Privacy Notice explains how we use your information and the
ways in which we protect your privacy. We welcome receiving correspondence
in Welsh. Any correspondence received in Welsh will be answered in Welsh
and corresponding in Welsh will not lead to a delay in responding.

References

Visible links
1. file:///tmp/”https:/gov.wales/about/welsh-government-privacy-notice/?lang=cy”
2. https://gov.wales/about/welsh-government...

Welsh Government

1 Attachment

Dear Mr Wilton-King

 

Please find attached a response from the Welsh Government with regards to
your complaint reference - IC-212097-K7G7 to the Information Commissioner.

 

Yours sincerely

 

Is-adran Cwricwlwm ag Asesu / Curriculum and Assessment Division

Y Grŵp Addysg, Cyfiawnder Cymdeithasol a’r Gymraeg /

Education, Social Justice and Welsh Language Group

Llywodraeth Cymru / Welsh Government

 

Sganiwyd y neges hon am bob feirws hysbys wrth iddi adael Llywodraeth
Cymru. Mae Llywodraeth Cymru yn cymryd o ddifrif yr angen i ddiogelu eich
data. Os cysylltwch â Llywodraeth Cymru, mae ein [1]hysbysiad preifatrwydd
yn esbonio sut rydym yn defnyddio eich gwybodaeth a sut rydym yn diogelu
eich preifatrwydd. Rydym yn croesawu gohebiaeth yn Gymraeg. Byddwn yn
anfon ateb yn Gymraeg i ohebiaeth a dderbynnir yn Gymraeg ac ni fydd
gohebu yn Gymraeg yn arwain at oedi. On leaving the Welsh Government this
email was scanned for all known viruses. The Welsh Government takes the
protection of your data seriously. If you contact the Welsh Government
then our [2]Privacy Notice explains how we use your information and the
ways in which we protect your privacy. We welcome receiving correspondence
in Welsh. Any correspondence received in Welsh will be answered in Welsh
and corresponding in Welsh will not lead to a delay in responding.

References

Visible links
1. file:///tmp/”https:/gov.wales/about/welsh-government-privacy-notice/?lang=cy”
2. https://gov.wales/about/welsh-government...

Christian Wilton-King

Dear Welsh Government,

Please see below, my response to you, which I have also sent on to the ICO - Case Reference: IC-212097-K7G7.

With respect to your references to:

Section 36(2)(b)(ii) – free and frank exchange of views for the purpose of deliberation
Section 36 (2)(c) – would otherwise prejudice the effective conduct of public Affairs
Section 38 Health and safety:

You, the Welsh Government (WG) are claiming that some members of the public, in response to the releasing of specific information (in this case, which of the five meetings were attended by the officials/stakeholders, the names of whom have already been publicly released) will react in a threatening way towards officials and stakeholders; so much so, that they would even “endanger” the safety of individuals and have a “detrimental effect on their physical or mental health”.
This is a smear on those who have shared concerns about the content of the Relationships and Sexuality Education (RSE) curriculum.

While it is contemptible and deplorable that anyone should make threats to and pressure those involved in the creation of the RSE curriculum, I remain unconvinced that you “have received evidence detailing how involvement with the policy has made panel members targets for abuse”. Certainly, the fact that any evidence of abuse has not been shared, suggests to me that your claim lacks credibility. That said, in the event anyone has been in receipt of abuse, that is a matter for the police to investigate and not for you to use as an excuse to hide information which is in the public interest. This particular request has not been made to incite any abuse or threats and to imply so, is dangerous.

Also, your reply suggests that transparency and accountability is secondary and therefore implies there is something important they are hiding, eg, the exclusion of important stakeholders. If this curriculum had been created properly, there should be no need to hide the processes of how it was created.

You use the phrase ‘co-production’ to describe the forming of the RSE content. However, by suggesting that any threats or pressure would produce “harmful effects” and jeopardise schools’ ability to deliver the curriculum, you are failing to accept parents and teachers’ valid concerns about what the RSE content includes. Instead, without any evidence, you have framed such concerns as being threats to the safety of officials and stakeholders. Contention and objection to dangerous public policy is not abuse. You should be prepared to evidence the validity and process of your policy development.

All things considered, I suggest that because this policy affects nearly every child in Wales, along with their parents/guardians, a very considerable portion of the population, that it is essential the public are aware of which public organisations/representatives cared enough to attend the meetings they had been invited to.

Section 40(2) Personal Data

Once again - re my request for the meeting attendees; you directed me to a document which publicly showed a list of the officials/stakeholders/representatives who had been invited to the five meetings, in order to discuss the formulation of the RSE curriculum.

That the public know who these representatives are, is in no doubt. However, what I asked for, was information pertaining to which of these representatives actually attended the meetings. I am not asking for any more personal details that I and the public don’t already know. I’m simply asking for information on which of these representatives actually bothered to turn up for the five meetings in question. Being directed to a document which listed the Expert Panel and not the attendees of each meeting, as you did, has failed to fulfil my reasonable request.

Yours faithfully,

Christian Wilton-King