We have obtained a copy of the complaint submitted to the Care Inspectorate by the former Head of School. The Inspectorate has asked for more time to respond to the concerns raised below.
I wish to make a formal complaint about the actions of the Care Inspectorate in relation to The New School, Butterstone. Given the seriousness of the concerns raised, and the extensive documentation that exists, I will provide only a summary at this stage.
The actions of the Care Inspectorate caused the closure of the school and significant damage to the mental health of children, their families, and members of staff. There were
The closure of the school has resulted in considerable suffering to;
· The children displaced by the closure and who were traumatised during the final week of term
· The families of those children
· 51 members of staff who lost their jobs as a result of the closure
There are 3 elements to the complaint;
1. The actions of the Care Inspectorate in the period leading-up to the closure
2. The actions of the Care Inspectorate during an investigation into the working practices of 2 staff members
3. The actions of the Care Inspectorate during the final week of school (20-23 November 2018) when CI representatives had a duty of care to the pupils
1 The actions of the Care Inspectorate in the period leading-up to the closure (November 23rd, 2018)
In summary, my complaint is that the Inspectorate;
I. Failed to assess the performance of the school in a fair and objective manner when conducting an unannounced inspection in May 2018
II. Made false allegations that the school had failed to follow its child protection guidelines
III. Failed to justify using objective evidence a significant downgrading of the school’s performance between 2017 and 2018
IV. Failed to provide a minute of the meeting held with senior managers in July 2018
V. Failed to respond to a request for advice on matters relating to child protection threshold levels in cases involving pupils with developmental disorders and disabilities
VI. Failed to respond for 5 weeks to concerns raised about the professional performance of a staff member; delayed unnecessarily the action that could be taken by school managers, and thus placed pupils at risk
VII. Allocated an inspector to perform inspection duties when it was clear that she was unqualified to do so with respect to her inexperience in;
a. Working in a school accommodation service
b. Working in a special school
c. Learning difficulties and disabilities (and understand pupil welfare)
d. Management responsibilities in a school care accommodation service
e. Personnel management in a school care accommodation service
f. Understanding written English
2 The actions of the Care Inspectorate during an investigation into the working practices of 2 staff members (see also appendix)
I. Delayed unnecessarily the return to work of 2 staff members cleared of child protection ‘allegations’ and caused harm to service users by denying them access to their key workers
II. Caused unnecessary suffering to the 2 members of staff by delaying their return to work
III. Demanded the suspension of the Head of School without providing an adequate rationale for this stipulation
IV. Made false allegations against the Head of School and Head of care without providing them with an opportunity to challenge these judgements, and thus denied them their right to natural justice
V. Failed to understand the content of a letter of concern written by a staff member relating to the working practices of her colleagues
VI. Failed to respond to a request from the Head of School for clarification on whether or nor the matter was concerned with ‘working practices’ or ‘child protection’
VII. Failed to respond to a request for clarification on how it was possible to prove the non-occurrence of an event
VIII. Failed to respond to a request for clarification on what “convincing evidence” could prove that an event had not occurred
IX. Demonstrated disproportionate and inconsistent standards in the actions taken against the school with respect to the working practices of the staff member identified in May 2018, and the 2 staff members falsely accused of poor practice in September 2018
X. Provided false information to the Registrar of Independent Schools following the conclusion of an external independent investigation held in November 2018
XI. Contradicted the findings of that independent investigation
XII. Imposed an improvement notice on the school that cannot be justified given the outcome of the external investigation (see below)
XIII. Caused the withdrawal from a crucial Board meeting of the Head of Care on spurious grounds so that she could not influence decisions taken by the Board
XIV. Insisted that the Board of Governors close the school when there was no justification for doing so
XV. Insisted that the school be closed within a week without considering the impact that this would have of the mental health and wellbeing of pupils
XVI. Failed to consider or permit appropriate transition planning for very vulnerable children and young people
XVII. Made false statements to the media suggesting that there were, “serious child protection concerns” at the school when it had already been demonstrated that there were none
XVIII. Forced the closure of the school over something that had not happened, and which had been demonstrated not to have happened
3 The actions of the Care Inspectorate during the final week of school (20-23 November 2018) when CI representatives had a duty of care to the pupils
Between 20th and 23rd November, 2018, the care inspectors were part of a multi-disciplinary team overseeing the closure of the school.
While on site, they had a duty of care to the pupils.
During this period, key decisions taken about pupil were made by that multi-disciplinary team and not by school managers.
During this period, the quality of care in the school fell dramatically and children and young people put at risk as a result.
The care inspectors failed to protect children and young people during that time in that;
Pupils were traumatised by the lack of care and consideration shown by the external ‘managers’
Pupils were not consulted on key decisions being made about them, contrary to national guidance
Parents were not consulted on key decisions being made about their children, contrary to national guidance
National transitions guidance was not followed by external managers
Pupils were denied their rights as set out in the United Nations Charter on the Rights of the Child
Pupils were not offered any advocacy service to help them express their views when key decisions were being taken about them
Pupils were not permitted to celebrate their achievements despite practising for this for months
Pupils and families were not permitted to achieve any form of closure at the termination of their placements
Placements were terminated without the planning advised by the Care Inspectorate
Pupils were not permitted to say goodbye to each other
Pupils were not permitted to say goodbye to trusted members of staff and their key workers
The Care Inspectorate allowed standards of care during this period to fall to unacceptable levels.
The actions of the Care Inspectorate have caused significant harm to 24 children/young people, their families, and to the 51 members of staff who lost their jobs as a result of the closure of the school.
The Inspectorate has demonstrated a lack of intelligence, objectivity and professional integrity in its involvement with the school, and an abuse of power.
Judgements made and decisions taken have been disproportionate, lacking any form of credible evidence-base and imposed without any consideration to the harm they might do to very vulnerable young people. Children have now been placed at very serious risk of harm as a result.
Bill Colley (former Head of School)