"Kill the Head to destroy the school"
On 7th November the Head of School was suspended by the Board of Governors for “failing to report a child protection matter” when it had already been established that there was no child protection matter to report, and when he had no responsibility for reporting CP issues.
So if this was the case, why was he suspended? There must have been a different reason.
On 8th November, Allison Jamieson of the Care Inspectorate and Stephen McPherson of Education Scotland met with Sir Andrew Cubie.
All that we know of this meeting is what was reported to us by Bill Colley. He told us that Andrew Cubie informed him that Jamieson and McPherson had instructed him to suspend Bill because he and Angie were “not adequate as school managers”. Bill was never given the opportunity to respond or to ask for evidence to support that defamatory assertion. It also contrasts with the very positive impression that they gave in their fake inspections of May 2018 which took place just 3 weeks after he had taken over as Head.
This might appear extraordinary and difficult to believe but there is supporting evidence that both inspectorates sought to cause maximum reputational damage to Bill to destroy the school - which we know was their intention all along. We also know that both the Care Inspectorate and PKC had for months been trying to undermine Angie Gordon by fabricating concerns, refusing to cooperate, and spreading malicious rumours amongst the regulatory authorities and council employees.
On 5th November, as soon as Witherslack knew that their takeover of the school would be blocked by the Care Inspectorate, Phil Jones (Director) wrote to Sir Andrew Cubie and stated that the CI had made it clear to them some time before that they wanted Bill out of the way. Once it became clear that the takeover could not go ahead because of Care Inspectorate hostility to the school, Witherslack generated a fake ‘safeguarding report’ to not only seal the fate of TNS but to avoid financial commitments of over £100,000.
Furthermore, FOI documentation shows that Perth & Kinross Council also wanted him gone, and this supports the widely-held belief that PKC and the Care Inspectorate were working together to remove the school following the February 2017 tragedy, and the embarrassment that a critical PKC decision may have contributed to the death of one of their young people.
It is also worth remembering that after the closure was announced, Education Scotland stated that they would not support any move to save it. In other words, they were happy for children to be traumatised, denied an education, and for 51 jobs to be lost.
So why were they so determined to destroy Bill Colley’s reputation at a time when he had no opportunity to defend himself?
School numbers were rising rapidly and developments across the school were starting to make an impact. The school had emerged from an extremely difficult 18 months and was projecting a school roll of 30-35 by Easter 2019. With Witherslack ready to invest £1.5m in staffing, infrastructure improvements and marketing, the future looked very bright and that is what PKC did not want with so many pupils being failed in their own schools.
Witherslack had made it a condition for the takeover that Bill remain in post to see this process through, so what better way to undermine the school than for those who wanted it closed to force the Board to suspend him and then meet secretly with Sir Andrew Cubie to defame him when he had no opportunity to counter false assertions or even to know what they were.
In his interview, Bill states that he knew at the time of his suspension that the move was “tactical” to “get him out of the way”. As soon as he was out of the picture, the Care Inspectorate took enforcement action that we now know to have been illegal. Had Bill been in post, he would have guided the Board and told them to challenge this in court.
Sadly, they were gullible and naive.
Had that enforcement action been challenged, the school would have survived.
He would also have allowed the Care Inspectorate to ‘force closure’ so that the responsibility fell to them and could then also be challenged in court. No Sheriff would have allowed closure to happen on spurious grounds (there is case law to support this) but the Board took the decision themselves to avoid their own reputational damage. In doing so, they sacrificed 51 jobs and the wellbeing of 24 pupils and their families.
So, for the plan to close the school to be successful, the Care Inspectorate, PKC, and Education Scotland had to remove the Head by destroying his reputation.
They were assisted in this by the remarkable compliance of the Board of Governors in what was the ultimate betrayal of Baroness Linklater’s founding vision.
It is also now clear that PKC insisted that Bill and Angie be reported to the GTCS and SSSC respectively to prevent them from saving the school by finding a replacement service to take over. At the time they were reported, both were furiously searching for another supplier so that pupils were not left in the position of having no school to go to. Moore House were identified during this period and thankfully the plan went ahead despite the best efforts of PKC and the regulators to block it.
We believe that Moore House were only allowed to register their new service because of the catastrophic and very expensive failure of Forteviot, and the pressure being applied on John Swinney by the TNS support groups.
Sandra Wright of the Care Inspectorate finally made the referrals to the GTCS and SSSC on 29th November. If both are cleared, as we strongly suspect, it will be a major embarrassment not only to the Care Inspectorate, but PKC and the Board of Governors. It will also demonstrate that the enforcement action was illegal and pave the way for compensation claims.
Whilst the campaign against the school may have had a successful outcome for those involved, they left behind a very messy audit trail which is now being scrutinised in detail. This may yet prove to be the undoing of some very cruel and unscrupulous individuals.
Revenge is a dish best served cold.
We are still awaiting the release of an unredacted memo from the Registrar of Independent Schools to John Swinney which prompted him to impose conditions on the school. We believe that this will show that the Care Inspectorate lied about the outcome of the police investigation.
The Care Inspectorate have still not responded to our request for them to demonstrate that the enforcement action they took was legal
The Care Inspectorate have failed to provide any evidence that the improvements that they demanded of the school could be justified
Despite the obvious illegality and corruption surrounding the closure of the school, John Swinney has still not made a decision about a full independent investigation