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The evidence mounts up

Further evidence that the Care Inspectorate acted to force the closure of TNS has been revealed in correspondence between The Witherslack Group and the Board of Governors.

In a letter written to the Board on 5th November 2018, just 3 days after a police-led child protection investigation had demonstrated that there had been no child protection concerns, that nothing had happened, and that school managers had been correct in their understanding of a staff concern, Witherslack Director Phil Jones states that, “the Care Inspectorate is threatening to withdraw authorisation for the school to operate and requires removal and replacement of the Head Teacher”.

This is further proof that the inspectorate was acting illegally since they have no powers to insist on the deployment of personnel. It may also be a criminal offence tantamount to extortion to make such a threat.

It also demonstrates that the Head of School had no opportunity to counter false allegations made against him by the inspectorate.

Ironically, on 2nd November, sensing that the Care Inspectorate was going to use this approach, Bill Colley and Angie Gordon offered to step aside to help save the school, even though they had clearly done nothing wrong.

Furthermore, Sir Andrew Cubie stated to parents on 28th November that, “Our apprehension was that if we had not acted the CI would have closed it”.

The Witherslack letter also makes it clear that the Care Inspectorate and Education Scotland threatened Witherslack before the November ‘non-incident’. Phil Jones states that, “Even if the regulators were to grant us permission to assume responsibility for the school, the legacy (which both Education Scotland and the Care Inspectorate have confirmed we would inherit, in spite of it being a new registration) would seriously threaten such authorisation and jeapordise our operation and the continuation of the school”.

Critically, this comment indicates that the school was doomed regardless of who was in the senior management team because Witherslack could have moved the existing staff to new positions and replaced them when they took over.

Witherslack withdrew from the takeover because they feared that the Care Inspectorate and Education Scotland would cause them as much reputational damage as they had TNS - and that no matter how good the school was, they could not succeed.

FOI documentation from PKC also indicates that Education Scotland blocked any efforts to keep the school open once Witherslack had run back to England, despite the fact that this would mean that most pupils would never go to school again.

We must now assume that both inspection reports written after the unannounced inspections in May 2018 were fake. Designed to cause reputational damage just 4 weeks after a new Head had taken over.

As indicated yesterday, it is now clear that the actions of the Care Inspectorate caused Witherslack to decide to withdraw and to inflict as much damage on the school as possible, and especially the managers, in order to circumvent their financial responsibilities and to use fake safeguarding concerns to trigger a get-out clause in the management agreement.

However, in the period between August and November 2nd 2018, when large numbers of Witherslack staff had been present in the school, not one raised any concerns about safeguarding or management other than to draft new child protection guidelines in order to meet English standards (they had stated that Scotland is 10-15 years behind England). It will be difficult for Witherslack to justify the allegations in the highly discredited Tennant report when their comments up to November 2nd had been so positive, and when they had raised no issues with the Board of Governors or school managers.

Furthermore, Witherslack staff present in school were unaware of the actions of their Directors and were visibly upset when Bill Colley told them he had been suspended - even Marcia McGlaughlin who had been present throughout the investigation.

Whilst Witherslack can now be seen as just another dishonest and morally bankrupt business venture run by venture capitalists trying as hard as possible to profit from the misery of families caught in a failing education and care system, what is more worrying is that a national regulator can sink to the standards seen in the last few days of TNS.

The Care Inspectorate was the tool used by Perth & Kinross Council to cut its education expenditure, aided and abetted by senior figures in both organisations.

We now know that:

  • The illegal actions of the Care Inspectorate caused the closure of TNS.

  • Vulnerable children and young people, other service users, and professional care workers, across the country are not safe if they fall under the jurisdiction of the Care Inspectorate.

  • Care Inspection reports cannot be believed.

  • The Care Inspectorate is not a politically independent organisation.

  • The Care Inspectorate is not ‘fit for purpose’

Further information:

Care Inspectorate acted “illegally”

Bill Colley