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Education inspectorate unable to identify any failings at TNS

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The former Head of School, Bill Colley, has passed onto our investigations team a response he received yesterday from Education Scotland following a formal complaint he submitted about their own actions in forcing the closure of the school.

We are currently processing that response and will publish it in full over the next few days, along with a commentary and a copy of the original complaint.

One of the most striking conclusions that can be drawn, given the circumstances which led to closure, is that Education Scotland is unable to identify any of the two failings that they stated took place between January and November 2018.

The Registrar of Independent Schools was also unable to provide evidence of any failings despite writing to Sir Andrew Cubie on 8th November stating that these had taken place and warranted conditions being placed on the school. With the Head being suspended from duties at the time, he was unable to advise the Board of Governors that evidence should be produced before accepting that the directive was competent.

We have also obtained a copy of an email message sent by Sir Andrew Cubie to the Head of School following the May 2018 inspections in which he appears to indicate that ES did not have concerns about the quality of care in the school and that the only issues concerned an apparent failure to update policies in the period following the February 2017 tragedy.

“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 is aware of my former role as the lead non exec on HMIE and a couple of times took refuge in saying that I would understand the distinction. 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. In response to a direct question he made clear that he had confidence in you taking the school forward.”

Furthermore, Education Scotland have also demonstrated that they are unable to identify any ‘child protection concerns’ which led to the suspension of the Head, the imposition of an improvement notice from the Care Inspectorate, the withdrawal of Witherslack, and the closure of the school.

Once again, the authorities have failed to identify any failings at the school and it is inevitable that staff and parents will draw 2 conclusions from this:

  1. The school was forced into closure on the basis of events that did not happen (and which were known not to have happened)

  2. The regulators, Perth & Kinross Council, and the Scottish Government forced the closure of the school after a long and coordinated campaign of intimidation and hostility

Bill Colley