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How are they going to try to wriggle out of this?

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The problem with the whole narrative that was presented in November, 2018, is that it was built on a lie, and around that lie the various agencies and individuals who wanted the school closed coalesced.

Easy, really. Mention safeguarding at a residential school and everyone backs away, assuming that dark deeds have been done and appalling abuse perpetrated on innocent kids.

Once any scrutiny of that lie takes place, or the threat of an independent investigation looms on the horizon, the uneasy coalition starts to fall apart, and new lies generated to try to pull things back together. But this time, each organisation begins to speak for itself and the story rapidly becomes inconsistent and incoherent.

So now we have Karen Reid referencing issues around ‘educational support’ at TNS and contradicting not only her own officers but the opinion of Education Scotland which raised no such concerns in May 2018 after their unannounced inspection.

The Registrar of Independent Schools desperately avoids identifying the ‘2 sets of failings’ she wrote about at the school because there were none, and shifts the blame onto Education Scotland who will, no doubt in return pass responsibility onto the Care Inspectorate.

The Care Inspectorate, which stated to the Board of Governors that, “If the Board does not close the school in one week, we will”, has adopted a more nuanced position by claiming that, “they begged the Board to keep the school open”. They are also squirming about the prospect of legal action over their imposition of an improvement notice just hours after an investigation had concluded that no wrongdoing had taken place at the school. How can they justify a demand that the school ensures that no inappropriate behaviour takes place between staff and pupils when it had just been demonstrated that this was already the case? It would be like demanding that Holly Willoughby refrains from torturing guinea-pigs or roasting wombats on her barbecue (lawyers please note, we are not suggesting that she has a barbecue or any external catering facility).

John Swinney also finds himself in a difficult position having written to parents about ‘serious safeguarding concerns’ but now struggling when staff and parents demand that he reveal what these were. Communications with the Education Minister are becoming increasingly difficult as each email exchange or request for information has to be processed by multiple committee and government lawyers. Ask John what he takes in his cup of tea and a reply will be forthcoming within the statutory 20 working days, by which time the Hob Nobs have become as flaccid as his ASN policy and the tea has evaporated, like his education strategy, into thin air.

The TNS investigations team have been considering how all of this will unravel, especially with the prospect of an independent inquiry and potentially huge compensation claims from staff and parents.

The big money is now on blame being directed at the infamous Tennant Report in which Witherslack recommended the school be closed immediately because of a 140 year-old toilet window, and a conversation between a pupil and a tree surgeon. The first ‘concerns’ raised by Witherslack about pupil welfare came when that report was published just prior to the November 16th Governors meeting. Staff have remarked how generous it was of Witherslack to shield them from criticism during the 3 months that they were running the school and when they (WG) stated on numerous occasions that they loved the place and could not wait to take over. Perhaps it was their northern accent and that something was lost in translation.

After that, they will focus on the actions of the Board of Governors which is currently as conspicuous as an albino amoeba in a snowstorm. It was, “the Board’s decision” to close the school and was in no way related to the discovery of a horse’s head at the bottom of Sir Andrew Cubie’s bed.

We shall have to wait and see. Watch this space.

Bill Colley