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New £150,000 PKC provision branded, "an expensive flop"

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It has been revealed that the new off-site provision established by Perth & Kinross Council with £150,000 of Scottish Government funding in the wake of the TNS closure has only one former TNS pupil but 10 members of staff. Furthermore, we understand that this one pupil is only attending on a temporary basis until a new service resumes on the site of the old school at Butterstone.

The failure of the PKC provision is a major embarrassment to the council at a time of savage spending cuts and raises serious questions about the capacity of the education authority to meet the needs of pupils with additional support needs.

FOI documentation has also revealed that, shortly after closure was announed, senior PKC officers pleaded with Education Scotland not to help save the school or allow it to re-open if a new provider could be found.

According to former school managers, the 13 PKC pupils who had been at the school before it closed down had attendance records of 90% or more and that these were better than the local authority average for all pupils and not only those with additional support needs. 11 out of the 13 pupils displaced by the closure have not attended school since November despite the assurance of Education Minister and local MSP, John Swinney, that they were his first priority.

Former staff and parents of TNS will be meeting John Swinney on 1st May to demand a full independent investigation into the fiasco given that despite repeated calls for evidence of the , “serious child protection concerns” that were alleged by PKC, the regulators, and Mr Swinney himself, no-one has been able to provide any to date.

With former staff demanding compensation for the loss of earnings and reputational damage that they suffered as a result of the botched shut-down, the bill could increase still further if an inquiry reveals that the the authorities were in any way negligent in forcing the closure of the old school.

Bill Colley