Just words

New Blog

Latest Updates

MSPs raise concerns about education regulator

Education Scotland played a significant part in the downfall of TNS. The professional competence and political independence of that organisation have been questioned by school managers ever since the ‘fake’ unannounced inspection of May 2018 when the school’s safeguarding performance was rated as “weak” simply because there was no clause in the child protection policy to cover child sexual exploitation and radicalisation.

In other words, one paragraph in a paper document caused that rating and not the actual delivery of care.

ES also stated that the school had failed to follow CP procedures in the past when we now know that this was untrue.

Strangely, the link inspector Monica McGeever never made mention of CP updates during her visits and in particular during the period when school staff were recovering from the trauma of the February 2017 tragedy. If anything, the sudden downgrading reflects her failure to provide appropriate support when that was the time when it was needed most.

MSPs are now stating that ES has, “lost control” of the national curriculum and that there has been a, “lack of leadership”.

But they should also be concerned at the failure of ES to identify serious shortfalls in ASN provision across the country and the growing crisis in local authorities caused by budget cuts. We have always considered it strange that ES do not record or even refer to the huge number of children and young people who do not attend school or who are placed on part-time timetables.

ES appears to have been corrupted by local authority culture and infected by practices that undermine any claim that it may have to be ‘politically independent’.

In his interview earlier this year, the Head of School noted the serious decline in inspection standards since he first ran the school in 2002, and the low calibre of ES personnel compared with their HMIe equivalents.

Most worrying of all were the actions taken by ES inspectors in November 2018 and the demands they made so soon after the school had been cleared of all wrongdoing. Their failure to protect pupils from harm during the final week has already been noted but it was their refusal to support any rescue plan for the school that raises concerns about their real commitment to pupil welfare.

During the May inspection, one led officer stated that, “most of these kids should be in mainstream” and another made the false claim that two pupils were at risk of suicide.

HMIe would never have made those comments.

Perhaps it is a sign of the times, but schools need to be protected from such crass judgements and that may mean not only a change in inspection personnel, but a radical overhaul of the organisation itself.

From the BBC article:

“Committee convener, Clare Adamson MSP said the breadth of learning available to pupils was rightly a cornerstones of Scottish education.

But she said a lack of leadership from Scotland's public education bodies had affected subject choice.

She added: "Our committee found the lack of clear leadership from Education Scotland and SQA around the curriculum structure has resulted in some narrowing of subject choice.

"This was compounded by a lack of awareness from these bodies, who are charged with supporting Scottish education, about the extent of the problem and their role in leading change.

"These organisations need to take responsibility so that our education system does not let down Scotland's young people."

Bill Colley