Council agree to investigation
After months of sustained pressure from former staff and parents, Perth & Kinross Council have agreed to support a review of the circumstances which led to the closure of TNS.
It is not clear what the scope of the review will be nor the investigative powers provided to professionals appointed to lead it, but there has been a cautious welcome from representatives of the Parent Support Group.
Significantly, PKC have changed their language and their tone from initially informing the press, public and elected members that there were, “serious child protection concerns” at the school, to issues around the “quality of educational support”. It is not known what is meant by this given that there has been no reference to ‘educational support’ in any official report, and nor could this cause an improvement notice to be issued nor force the closure of the school.
To date, and despite repeated attempts to identify any ‘failings’ at the school, there is no evidence of serious safeguarding concerns nor of a lack of educational support.
School managers, whilst welcoming the initial investigation, are continuing to press for a full independent inquiry at government level and believe that this latest move by PKC is an attempt to reduce their own reputational damage caused by failures at authority level.
It now appears that PKC are attempting to blame others for the decisions that they made and their actions over the last few months.
As one former member of staff put it, “I'm pretty confident that PKC leaders will only be taking this step after a series of high level meetings with a plan to save their bacon firmly in place. They will make claims and counterclaims designed to make them look good (or at least attempt to do so) whilst passing the buck and discrediting the other groups involved. They now realise that there is in fact nowhere to hide and so they have concocted another version of events. Why else would they recently claim to have been opposed to the school closure when in fact they started the whole process? “
A senior manager at the school stated, “By the end of this process, I suspect that Witherslack, PKC, the Care Inspectorate, the Board of Governors, and Education Scotland will all be blaming each other for the catastrophe that occurred. The only people to emerge from this with their professionalism and integrity intact will be school staff and the parents who have supported us throughout. No-one believes that there were child protection concerns at the school nor any justification for the improvement notice or the subsequent actions of the council or regulators. The whole thing has been a fiasco and a PR disaster for the Scottish education system.”