Care Inspectorate in "serious trouble"
“External scrutiny must be transparent in all its activities, its focus, decision making criteria, business processes, assessments and reporting.
There should be a transparent decision making framework for regulatory intervention. It is essential that the processes and mechanisms which support the use of external scrutiny are transparent, so that all parties understand the particular purpose for which it is being used at any given time. For external scrutiny to be credible, its reports must be clear, independent and consistent.
Regulators should be able to justify decisions and be subject to public scrutiny.
Regulators should be able to explain how and why final decisions have been reached. Regulators and enforcers should establish clear standards and criteria.”
Care Inspectorate Enforcement Policy (July 2018)
So - these are the standards the CI are expected to adhere to.
A bit strange then that they have refused to explain or justify their decision to issue an Improvement Notice on 9th November 2018 (Reference: CI response to a formal complaint from the former Head of School).
Also strange that they refused to explain the reasons for the inexplicable fall in inspection grades in May 2018.
But what is perhaps more shocking is that Sandra Wright of the inspectorate reported the Head of Care to the SSSC in November 2018, 3 weeks after an independent investigation had concluded that no wrongdoing had taken place and that there were no child protection matters to consider (i.e. that school managers had been correct in their understanding of a letter from a staff member). She also reported the Head of School to the GTCS.
Sandra Wright must now justify that action.
But more disturbing still is the fact that, having reported Angie to the SSSC and thus leaving her in an unemployment wilderness for the last 8 months, they are refusing to provide the SSSC with the information needed to investigate the claim (that she “failed to report a child protection concern”).
The reasons are pretty clear. There was never any case to answer.
Once that is demonstrated by an official investigation, a whole house of cards comes tumbling down and the implications are far-reaching.
Firstly, it will mean that Bill Colley will be cleared automatically of wrongdoing because it is not possible for there to be different judgements about the same (spurious) accusation. FOI documentation reveals that Sheena Devlin (PKC) also insisted that he be reported and furthermore, briefed the press that he had been suspended for “serious child protection matters”. That could prove to be a very expensive mistake.
But it also implies that the enforcement action taken by the Care Inspectorate was illegal. That will open-up a whole raft of legal claims against the CI from pupils, parents and the 50 innocent staff who lost their jobs as a result of CI enforcement action.
Neither Bill or Angie are prepared to comment on whether or not they are taking legal action against the Care Inspectorate for loss of earnings and reputational damage, but we do know that the legal case against the CI has been prepared and that compensation claims will run into millions.
We also know that Bill Colley has demanded to see what information the Care Inspectorate provided to the Registrar of Independent Schools on 2nd November that caused John Swinney to impose conditions on the school and to state in public that there had been “serious child protection concerns”. So far, those statements have been redacted or the information refused.
The Improvement Notice and Conditions caused the withdrawal of Witherslack and a financial crisis for the school which should not have been terminal, but for the insistence by the Care Inspectorate that the Governors “close the school, or they would”. As Sir Andrew Cubie stated, “the Board came under intolerable pressure from the regulators”.
So, it is very clear that there is a direct link between the actions of the Care Inspectorate and the closure of the school, which means that any costs arising from the illegal action of the inspectorate will give rise to compensation claims. The sheer scale of the cost to young people and families is difficult to assess, particularly for those still without an educational placement.
The actions taken by the Care Inspectorate caused serious harm to children and young people - there can be no doubt about that.
We also understand that staff have been working with lawyers on action arising from both public and internal statements made by officers from Perth & Kinross Council which will be viewed as defamatory and thus potentially very expensive to the poor PKC tax payer. Information has been provided by PKC employees that they were told that there had been “serious child protection” issues at the school. That evidence could prove to be crucial when the case comes to court.
The lawyers are likely to get very busy (and very rich) over this whole sordid affair and it is desperately depressing that the full story is only likely to emerge in court if, as predicted, John Swinney refuses to sanction a full independent investigation.
So much for the words above.