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Lies, fake news, and Chinese whispers

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FOI documentation has revealed how senior officers within PKC tried to manipulate the media coverage of the school closure by spreading false rumours about pupil safety and welfare.

Contrary to her recent pronouncement that the authority was more concerned about “educational support” in the school, Karen Reid wrote, on 21st November;

Claire Wardlaw From: Karen Reid Sent: 21 November 2018 19:46 To: Sheena Devlin; Jacqueline Pepper; CHX Communications - Generic Email Account; Mark Neil Subject: Re: PRIVATE AND CONFIDENTIAL NSB - comms (21.11.18 - 19.46pm) Sheena Many thanks. Comms colleagues - I absolutely support this direction - we need a strong position statement that sets out first and foremost the very worrying concerns identified by the independent inspectorates, our unswerving focus on children and young people's health, safety and wellbeing, our disappointment at the circumstances and the schools inability to provide the right care, support and education or indeed accept our previous offers of support.

In stark contrast to the 2 unannounced inspections in May 2018 which identified no concerns about pupil safety or support, Karen Reid (former Head of the Care Inspectorate) attempted to suggest that the inspectorates had, “very worrying concerns” about pupil safety.

The investigations which took place in November 2018 into a staff allegation of poor working practices concluded that pupils felt happy and safe in the school, that no wrongdoing had taken place and that there were no child protection concerns.

The Registrar of Independent Schools has failed to identify any failings in the school, nor is there any evidence of a pupil being harmed or put at risk.

As the Head of School states in his interview, “This is the first occasion when a school has been closed down for something that did not happen and was known not to have happened”.

Karen Reid’s credibility, integrity and professionalism must now be questioned. 

PKC’s catastrophic management of the school in its final four days also raises serious questions about her assertion that the authority has, “ an unswerving focus on children and young people’s health, safety and wellbeing”, as does the failure of the authority to provide an education to those pupils displaced by the closure of the school, and the fact that most PKC pupils were at TNS because PKC had been unable to meet their needs in the past. The Children’s Commissioner is currently investigating a number of complaints received from parents about the cruel way in which decisons were made about pupils during that final week and the failure of officers to;

  1. Consult with parents

  2. Adhere to national guidance on transition planning

  3. Allow pupils to be involved in decision-making about matters which affected them

  4. Provide advocacy support to pupils

  5. Uphold their human rights

  6. Meet their emotional needs

One parent/carer in her filmed interview called the treatment that pupils received during that week as, “sick”.

The charges against PKC appear to be far more serious than the false allegations which led to the closure of the school and raise concerns about the authority’s ability to adhere to national guidance on child protection and pupil welfare. As one staff member stated, “PKC seemed to be hell-bent on Getting It Catastrophically Wrong for every pupil in our school. It is the council and not the school which should have been closed down if the authorities were genuinely interested in pupil safety”.

School staff are also adamant that PKC could never have, “provided support to the school” because its officers were insufficiently trained and did not understand pupil needs.


Questions are also being asked of Education Minister, John Swinney and his statements to parents, fellow MSPs and to the press that there were concerns that the school had failed to follow its child protection procedures. There is no evidence of any such failure and former staff and parents are now seeking an urgent meeting with Mr Swinney to determine why he made these claims.

Bill Colley