Care Inspectorate caused withdrawal of Witherslack
Witherslack wrote to the Trustees of the school on November 5th 2018, 3 days after an independent investigation had cleared the school of any wrongdoing and immediately after the Care Inspectorate had issued an improvement notice, to state that they were withdrawing from the deal to take over the school.
It was written BEFORE the now discredited report by Howard Tennant (10th November) into safeguarding and proves that Witherslack wanted to back-down on the deal prior to any concerns about pupil care and welfare. Prior to that improvement notice they had extolled the virtues of care at the school and raised not one concern about working practices. They had raised no concerns on 2nd November when discussing how to proceed with an internal inquiry into the concerns raised by a staff member, but three days later, and immediately after the imposition of an inprovement notice, informed the Board that they were pulling-out of the deal.
Head of School, Bill Colley, warned the Board not to allow Witherslack to undertake any safeguarding review because he feared that they had been frightened by the Care Inspectorate’s actions, but they went ahead despite the clear conflict of interest.
He also indicated in his interview that the improvement notice was incompetent on the grounds that the conditions imposed related to events which had already been shown not to have happened, and was completely disproportionate to the matters under consideration.
2 investigations have shown that there were no child protection concerns, no inappropriate behaviour by staff, and that school managers were entirely correct in their interpretation of a staff letter.
School managers maintain that the Care Inspectorate’s actions were ‘incompetent’ and illogical, and that Witherslack were scared-off by their campaign of intimidation against the school.
The fact that the letter was written so soon after the improvement notice, and at a time when an independent investigation had concluded that pupils felt happy and safe in school demonstrates just how damaging the Care Inspectorate were in their decision to issue their demands.
Witherslack pulled-out because they knew that their own service would not be registered and that the Care Inspectorate were working with PKC to close the school.
The Care Inspectorate also insisted that the Head of School be suspended, even though he had done nothing wrong, and that the school be closed within 5 days after the Board meeting on 19th November despite the harm that this would cause to vulnerable pupils. The Head of Care was pulled-out of that meeting by the Care Inspectorate to prevent her raising objections and the Inspectorate insisted that registration for the school be withdrawn before another provider could take it over.
The cruelty inflicted on pupils during the final week of school has been documented in the staff account. Some will take years to recover.
The current Chief Executive of Perth & Kinross Council is Karen Reid - formerly Head of the Care Inspectorate.
Jacquie Pepper, Head of Children’s Services was formerly head of inspections at the Care Inspectorate.
Bernadette Malone, former Chief executive of PKC is now a board member at the Care Inspectorate.
It is not known why the Board of Governors chose to ignore the Head of School but accept instead the advice of the Care Inspectorate.