The re-establishment of an education service on the site of our old school may lead some to question our motives for pressing for a full independent investigation into the circumstances that led to the closure of TNS in 2019.
Around 25% of former staff have been re-employed and 15 or so day pupils now attend the new provision. Sadly, there are others who are still sitting at home and who may never return to school due to the trauma of what happened in November.
So, perhaps we should just back-off, accept the lies that were told at the time and just get on with life.
There are good reasons to reject this suggestion and we have a duty to increase the pressure on John Swinney not just for the sake of our own curiosity, but for families across Scotland, and for the dedicated professionals who underpin our education and care systems.
In other words, the closure of TNS was not just a ‘local issue’. It affects everyone in Scotland.
These are the reasons we will continue with our campaign:
1. There is convincing evidence of corruption within the system and significant failings at national level in the way that organisations charged with protecting children and ensuring that our education system works for them, conducted their business. It appears to be the case that ‘there are no care or education standards’.
2. TNS was a national resource. Its closure has robbed many young people across the country of the opportunity to go to school.
3. The actions of officers from PKC, the Care Inspectorate, and Education Scotland did significant harm to vulnerable children and caused long-lasting trauma. These have not yet been investigated and lessons have not yet been learnt. It is also the case that staff were traumatised by the way the school was closed and in particular the manner in which PKC officers treated staff and pupils during the final week - some are now receiving counselling because of the cruelty they witnessed.
4. Staff and parents were lied to. Who lied, and why, has yet to be established.
5. Innocent members of staff had their reputations destroyed and have suffered immense financial hardship. These wrongs must be righted.
6. The closure of the school exposed weaknesses not only in local authority provision, but in the understanding that education officers at PKC and Education Scotland have of additional support needs. These are the ‘professionals’ who are supposed to advance educational standards and yet they fell short by some distance of their own platitudes and national guidance.
7. Allegations of cronyism will not go away. If it is the case that supposedly independent regulators have been corrupted by unwise appointments, then there may need to be a root and branch reform of the organisations affected. I.e. they are not currently ‘fit-for’ purpose’. If Parliament cannot trust the regulators, we have no system in place for scrutinising government policy. Our whole democratic process is under threat.
8. Other services are likely to suffer the same fate as TNS unless action is taken to ensure that there is a genuine system of justice, and proper regulatory controls to ensure that those in positions of authority do not abuse their powers to achieve their own goals (e.g. cost-cutting).
9. Scotland’s reputation as a progressive nation has been badly damaged by the whole affair. If correct, the allegations of corruption and incompetence at a national level place us closer to Zimbabwe than to New Zealand in terms of ethical standards in public service.
10. The refusal of those who did so much harm to so many people to disclose why they acted as they did, undermines not only the transparency and accountability that should be embedded into the way that public services work, but any sense that there is ‘natural justice’ in our country. If it is the case, as many allege, that the Care Inspectorate lied to Scottish Goverment about a spurious complaint from a staff member, then a crime has taken place and those responsible should be brought to justice.
The only way to address these concerns is to hold an open public inquiry in which all involved are compelled to justify what they said and what they did to contribute towards the closure of the school.
This campaign is in no way linked with the new provision and will have no impact on their plans to re-establish residential provision. We are intent on discovering the truth behind events that took place in October/November 2018 and which caused so much harm to so many people.
The new provision is not TNS but a different service. We want to know how and why TNS was destroyed.