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Photograph of meeting between PKC, the Care Inspectorate, and Education Scotland

Photograph of meeting between PKC, the Care Inspectorate, and Education Scotland

New information provided to the web team has cast yet more doubt on the reasons given for the closure of TNS in November 2018.

Aside from the fact that everyone is now refusing to even use the phrase, “serious child protection concerns” let alone provide a shred of evidence that they ever existed, it is becoming clear that the school was held in high regard and was rapidly improving after the tragedy of February 2017.

The Head of School has informed us that he received a phone call from John Swinney himself in September begging the school to persist with a pupil whose placement they had wanted to end. During that call, Mr Swinney praised the school and stated that he had, “full confidence in the senior managers” and knew that they were doing an,”outstanding job”.

We have also seen an email to the Head from Rodger Hill, Head of Secondary & Inclusion at PKC saying the same thing and imploring the school to keep the placement going. Independent consultants involved with the case have stated that TNS was there only school in Scotland capable of meeting the needs of this pupil.

Stranger still is an email from a Board member following the disputed Education Scotland inspection in May of that year. In this he states that;

“As you know I was scheduled to speak to Steve yesterday afternoon and duly did so. I copy this to the Board given the outcome of the call. It was, perhaps predictably both positive and negative. He avoided much of the force of criticism in your draft letters, (which he has of course not seen), but which I used as a guide for some of my post inspection commentary, by his saying that the underpinning of the issues came from the CI, not ES. He undertook to speak to Sandra Wright at the CI to get her to call me. She has not yet done so. This approach had him avoid responsibility for the downgrading of the assessment of child protection and safeguarding, but he did say that the concerns were to do with the current state of policies, after new regulation, rather than actual care! This was his response to my assertion that our CP policies had been crawled over last year by the NAS, CI and NSPCC resulting in the gradings given in June last year. Our training had, as required been overseen by the NSPCC without complaint.

I referred to the approach of Monica McGeever, but we did not engage further, as we agreed that instead of a lengthy 1 to 1 phone call it would be more helpful if I, you and colleagues and the Board could see his draft review. He has undertaken to me, knowing of our Board meeting on Thursday, 31st May, that he will send to me and you a draft of his report by next Monday, so that we all can consider it and after Thursday respond to it. I recall we have 7 formal days so to do after receipt.

I think he was both surprised by my engagement with the issues and evident concern that the review, as reported to me, seemed not to explain adequately the tumble in grades since last year. In response to a direct question he made clear that he had confidence in you taking the school forward, and understood the damage done because of Mel's incapacity. He will be for the future our key ES lead and is eager, at my prompting in due course to meet you and me with or without the senior team and to meet the Board. It is for us to determine how best to capitalise on this without his knowing we have financial bridges to cross before such discussions can realistically take place.

I look forward to hearing all views in the aftermath of this note. I shall advise when and if I hear from Sandra Wright at the CI before next Thursday”.

All of this suggests that Education Scotland had no serious concerns about child protection and that the letter to Sir Andrew Cubie from the Registrar of Independent Schools in November can only have been based on information provided by the Care Inspectorate, directly after the school had been cleared of all wrongdoing by an independent investigation. Did the Care Inspectorate lie about that outcome? This might explain the actions subsequently taken by RoIS and ES.

Attention now turns to the relationship between Karen Reid (Head of the CI until May 2018 and now Chief Executive of PKC), Bernadette Malone (Chief Executive of PKC until May 2018 and now a board member at CI) and Jacquie Pepper (former Head of CI inspections).

Mr Swinney must also explain why he informed parents and the press that there were serious child protection concerns at the school when there clearly were none.

Bill Colley