THE AUTHORS of a key investigation into Scottish education have told John Swinney that the draft findings cannot be made public before the election due to confidentially rules.

The Deputy First Minister was told by MSPs to publish the draft findings of the OECD report before the election after it was revealed the final publication would not take place until after May’s election.

The OECD review of Curriculum for Excellence was originally scheduled for release in February but will not be made public until June due to the pandemic and the inability for officials to work closely with schools.

Mr Swinney was defeated by MSPs last month when a Liberal Democrat motion calling for the report to be released was backed by other opposition parties.

The Education Secretary wrote to the OECD last week, asking if the organisation could “confirm if this would be possible and to clarify your position on the matter”.

But in a repose by the OECD, the international organisation stressed that the draft report “is classified as confidential and not for dissemination”.

It adds that “the said report is protected and cannot be published and disseminated to the public”.

Mr Swinney told MSPs that the OECD has “made its position very clear”, adding that “it will not publish its draft report, nor will it allow the Scottish Government to do so”.

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But Lib Dem education spokesperson, Beatrice Wishart, warned that Mr Swinney has “got himself into a bind”.

She highlighted that her party had “first called for the public to hear from the OECD before the election” almost one year ago.

She also pointed to a meeting of Holyrood’s Education Committee in September last year where she formally asked the Education Secretary to request an interim report, with Mr Swinney saying he “will be happy to discuss that”.

Ms Wishart said: “Our Freedom of Information request showed ministers did precisely nothing – it took a defeat of parliament to coax the Cabinet Secretary into giving anyone anything before the election.

HeraldScotland: Lib Dem MSP Beatrice WishartLib Dem MSP Beatrice Wishart

“The public are being asked to judge the SNP on their record on education – but the Cabinet Secretary has orchestrated this obstruction through disagreements and in-action. “Why didn’t the Cabinet Secretary contact the OECD in September when he said he would?”

Mr Swinney said: “The proposals were put forward, the remit agreed and of course, we’ve had the impact of Covid which has disrupted the ability of the OECD to engage with schools because of the period of disruption that we’ve had going back to last March.

“We have asked this respected international organisation to undertake that exercise. I think we should leave that organisation to do exactly that.

“I’ve made every endeavour to try to secure early publication in so far as that’s possible and the OECD have indicated that is not possible.”

He added: “On two occasions, we have asked the OECD to extend further the scope of the work they are undertaking.

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“This started off as an examination of the senior phase, it was extended to the broad general education and it’s also extended into assessments. “I don’t think it’s a particular surprise that the timescale extends. We’ve also had the disruption of Covid.”

Conservative education spokesperson, Jamie Greene, pointed to the motion being agreed calling for an interim report last month and Mr Swinney stating he would share draft findings in March ahead of the final report to be published in June.

Mr Green added: “Given that he is now saying that the OECD won’t let him share those findings, can I simply ask have they changed their mind, has he changed his mind or did Parliament misunderstand his promise to the chamber?”

Mr Swinney insisted the OECD has “indicated that that must be treated as a confidential document”.

He added: “I’m trying my level best to meet the terms of parliament’s requests along with the structures that apply to me in a contract that we have agreed with the OECD.

“I don’t think a Government minister breaching a contract is a particularly good look for parliament to ask that I should undertake.”