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Head of School Statement

Statement of Bill Colley (former Head of School at The New School, Butterstone)

17 January 2019

“The abrupt closure of this unique school has caused immense human suffering not only to the 24 children who attended and their families, but to 51 members of staff who have lost their jobs, their careers, and their professional reputations.

It is clear that, contrary to initial reports, there were no child protection issues at the school and that the decision to close was forced upon the Board of Governors by the regulatory authorities on the basis of flawed reasoning, and due to the imposition of unjustifiable enforcement measures that could never withstand any objective scrutiny.

It is now imperative that a full independent investigation takes place to identify how and why such a valuable educational resource has been lost to the nation, and to ensure that a tragedy of this scale never happens again.

Not only would this clear a highly skilled and dedicated staff team of any wrongdoing, but it would provide lessons for those responsible in how to ensure that organisations that that are charged with protecting the public and improving services, do so with professionalism and integrity. If public servants have failed through either professional incompetence or malevolence towards the school, their positions should be reviewed and action taken to avert any future repetition.

Furthermore, should it become clear that external agencies acted unprofessionally in causing the unnecessary closure, financial compensation should be made available to the staff and families affected for the traumatic loss of an educational service and compassionate community, the damage caused to professional reputations, and any loss of earnings that they may have suffered.

Since the closure, the school has been inundated with messages of support from across the country and an affirmation of its mission, its impact on vulnerable young people and their families, and the professionalism of its staff. All connected to the school remain steadfast in our determination to ensure that a full investigation now takes place and we will not rest until this has been agreed.”

Bill Colley

Bill Colley