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8 months on

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We are still waiting.

It has been nearly 8 months since the closure of the school and we are still waiting for answers to those important questions.

How did it happen?

Why did it happen?

Why were accusations made that we now know were untrue?

Who planned the whole charade?

We are also waiting for Mr Swinney to make his mind up about the investigation which everyone knows is absolutely essential to clear the air, but which would almost certainly expose such serious failings at the Care Inspectorate, Education Scotland, Perth & Kinross Council and even within Scottish Government itself. That is why none of us is confident that the inquiry will ever be allowed to take place. The costs are simply too high.

Both support groups are determined to press ahead with a petition to Parliament if, as expected, Mr Swinney buries his head in the sand, but even then, opposition parties may be wary of supporting an investigation if it paints a picture as black as we expect it to be. Where have they been for the last few years when the signs are corruption, political interference and cronyism were there for all to see? Why have they allowed this to happen? Why were they not doing their job?

One route to justice may come through the media with at least one major organisation showing interest in the story, but these things take time and any programme exposing what really happened may take at least 12 months to reach our television screens.

The best bet may be in court. This may be the only way to discover the truth and for true justice to be served.

It would be interesting to see how Perth & Kinross officers respond when, under intense scrutiny, they are cross-examined on the ‘concerns’ that they raised with the Registrar of Independent Schools in January 2018 and the lies that they told during the whole fiasco. Likewise those Care Inspectors and their appalling response to the child protection investigation which concluded what everyone knew, that no wrongdoing had taken place at the school. Both organisations would also have to explain how and why such cruelty was allowed to happen during the final week of term and why ‘professionals’ in their position could cause so much harm to vulnerable your people.

Mr Tennant of the now hated Witherslack Group may not relish having to justify his comments in the report which proved to be the final nail in the TNS coffin, but he will be in good company because the Board of Governors will be squirming in the wings, waiting for their own grilling and the demand to explain why they just gave-up and ran away after staff had battled so valiantly to save the school following the February 2017 tragedy.

Whatever the outcomes of those court cases, at least we have some certainty in the work of Treehouse Productions and their documentary, which we understand will tell the full story of what happened over the 2 years between December 2016 and November 2018.

Because however dishonest and corrupt others may be, the staff, pupils and parents of TNS will tell the truth, and the narrative that emerges could yet shock the nation.

If, as many allege, the closure of TNS proves to be one of the biggest political scandals since devolution 20 years ago, the ramifications could be widespread. We may need new regulatory regimes for both education and care. We may need an new education department in Perth & Kinross Council and elected members capable of holding their officers to account. We may even need new political leaders.

It took 20 years to expose Hillsborough, 16 to free the Birmingham 6, and decades to uncover the systematic abuse that took place in care homes and schools across the country.

As depressing as this may be, at least the truth did come out.

But it would be a tragedy for Scotland if the TNS scandal was only made public because of the efforts of a small group of dedicated parents & professionals capturing the voices of children and young people so badly let down by the system, their families, and the staff who gave so much time and emotional energy to making TNS the place it was.

Surely this is no way to run a country.

“The truth is incontrovertible. Malice may attack it, ignorance may deride it, but in the end, there it is”

Winston Churchill

Bill Colley