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Sorry seems to be the hardest word

One of the most disturbing aspects of this whole sorry affair is the role played by the Board of Governors in bringing down the school and abandoning their own senior managers to the onslaught from the regulators and PKC.

That has continued to this very day with no support provided to those who have seen their reputations and their careers destroyed for doing no more than their job in supporting vulnerable young people and their families. But it goes further than that, because not only did the Board simply stand back and allow their own people to be savaged by those hell bent on removing the school from the educational landscape, but they stabbed them in the back to save themselves in an act of treachery that defies belief.

The apparent absence of anything resembling ‘leadership’ has been striking. When the whole furore erupted, it was the Head of School who put himself in the firing line for a supposed failing that had not happened and was not even his responsibility.

In sharp contrast, Sir Andrew Cubie and his colleagues on the Board simply ran away and hid when it was their responsibility and their duty to defend the school and protect both staff and pupils from harm.

Crises happen. When they do, they require cool heads and rational thinking rather than panic. But panic is what we got.

The Head was suspended for something that had alrady be shown not to have happened, and then the Board acquiesced to every ludicrous demand made by the regulators in a demonstration of appalling naivety and deference.

Bill and Angie were left as sitting ducks, just as Chris Holmes had predicted would happen in March of that year. “You will get no support from the Baord” were his parting words as he disappeared in a cloud of smoke at the end of that term.

He described the previous few months in similar terms. “It was like being beaten by PKC around the head with a baseball bat while the Board held my hands behind my back”.

As far back as December, just after the school had closed, voices were already suggesting that not only was the Board conned into closing the school but that they might also have been blackmailed. Nothing about their actions appeared to make any sense.

In closing the school within 5 days they incurred additional costs of over £140,000 as council demanded refunds for the fees lost for the remainder of term. This robbed staff of their notice pay and made the school immediately insolvent when the financial shortfall had been relatively modest as a result of rapid recruitment over the previous months. New pupils were due to start, and the Head had predicted a surplus in the accounts by April 2019.

All of that was destroyed by poor decision making and what parents have repeatedly called a lack of ‘backbone’.

Was this the greatest betrayal of all in the whole saga of the school closure, or does it go deeper than that?

Whatever the answer, it was clearly one of the most shameful episodes in the long history of independent education in Scotland.

It takes courage to resist the aggression that school was facing in November. The staff demonstrated that they held their nerve but they were let down by those above them.

The cock crowed for the third time and we lost our school.

Will the Board have the courage to admit that they got it badly wrong?

The answer is blowing in the wind.

Bill Colley