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As the lawyers sharpen their knives

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You’ve got to feel sorry for them really. Despite the appalling harm that has been done to so many children and families, the poor old education officers at Perth & Kinross Council now appear to be clutching at the last straws that remain to them in order to salvage their reputations and the public standing of the authority.

It has not worked out the way that they had intended.

It had all looked so easy back in November. Fabricated allegations of child abuse, a Care Inspectorate working on their behalf, and a press eager to promulgate the spurious propaganda that issued forth from the council machine, should have made the whole thing very easy.

But now they are backtracking. Desperate to distance themselves from the very same arguments that they were promoting just a few months ago and trying to turn heads towards decisions made by the Board of Governors rather than their own inhumane behaviour, their efforts appear to be gaining little traction.

Someone at 2 High Street has finally twigged that the truth will inevitably come out in a court setting and with huge financial and reputational costs. Heads will roll, but those at the top will now be desperate to pin the blame on the rather sad and pathetic individuals who thought this whole scheme would work and who advised them that it was a good idea in the first place.

Representatives of the parents group met today with senior individuals from Perth & Kinross Council to explore the possibilities of an investigation into the circumstances which led to the closure of the school and to so much human suffering.

As predicted, those officers attempted, without success, to persuade parents that the fault lay with the Board of Governors and “financial irregularities at the school” (according to the former Head of School, there were none).

It has all moved a long way from child protection and ‘safeguarding’ and the united front that appeared to exist just a few weeks ago and that suggested that the school had to close within five days to protect the pupils who felt happy and safe there.

In short, they have lost an argument that they once seem destined to win. The tide has turned, and those very same education officers now appear to be out of their depth. PKC are refusing to allow any investigation to examine their own conduct and specifically:

  • The fake complaint submitted to the Registrar of Independent Schools in January 2018.

  • The conduct of the officers prior to that following the tragic death of a young man to whom they refused funding, and took his own life just three days after being told of that decision.

  • The actions of those very same officers in the final four days of the school when so much harm was done and when they demonstrated to the whole world that they were incapable of providing appropriate support to young people with very high levels of need.

  • The forced removal, and one hour’s notice, of the highly anxious 15-year-old with complex needs without any form of transition planning or understanding of their difficulties.

  • The denial of basic rights to the children and parents affected by the closure.

And following the whole tragedy of the school closure, and the self-congratulatory messages that flowed between members of the authority in the following days; the lies that followed in an attempt to deceive parents still mourning the loss of their children’s education and the social contacts that had made their lives worthwhile, no-one but no-one is buying into their story.

In many respects, the game now seems over. Any betting man would put his money on the outcome of an investigation finding serious flaws in the competence and integrity of the education officers involved. School staff are likely to be exonerated and even applauded for their professionalism and the continuing support for families traumatised by the actions of the council and the regulatory authorities. That is why the authority investigation will never be allowed to examine their own actions. Turkeys tend not to vote for Christmas

It is all now a political blame game. Nobody wants to pick up the tab, which may amount to several million pounds, for the costs of the extraordinary stupidity that guided their decision-making. Each will be pointing the finger at the ‘alternative facts’, that they all disseminated at the time of closure and which make Donald Trump appear rational and trustworthy by comparison. But it will always be others who are to blame.

We all know now that there were no, “serious child protection concerns” and that is why PKC refuse to discuss them.

We know that council officers lied to their elected members and continue to do so despite the substantial evidence suggesting that the whole thing has been fabricated in order to deflect criticism from their own decision-making with respect to the young man who took his own life, and their inability to do what the job description states and make inclusion work within the authority.

We know also that the narrative no longer belongs to Perth & Kinross Council and to the Care Inspectorate. Too much is at stake politically for that to be the case. Should a general election be called within the next few weeks, John Swinney and his allies will be mindful of the impact that this case might have on SNP support within a constituency currently leaning towards the Conservatives. It does not look good when children are harmed just 15 minutes away from his own office whilst he twiddled his thumbs and did nothing to protect them. Nor does it look good that he failed at any point to offer support to his constituents following the February 2017 tragedy when many experienced the trauma of that event and the costs to their own health of putting the needs of children and families first. Those failures may re-bound on his Westminster colleagues.

Someone at some point needs to lance a boil which currently disfigures the educational landscape in Scotland, and which suggests that we are not mature enough as a nation to be able to run our own affairs. Is there anyone out there big enough to do this? Someone with the professionalism and integrity to cut through the fog of confusion and make sense of the scheming that took place to destroy a school that was doing no more than to educate and care for children beyond the capability of the local authority.

Do those people exist?

Is there anybody out there?,

Bill Colley