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The human cost

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Soon after the closure of the school was announced by the Board of Governors in November 2018, staff pleaded, “Please let there be no more deaths”.

Witnessing the cruelty of the final week, when the advisers from Education Scotland, the Care Inspectorate, and PKC allowed vulnerable young people to be ripped apart from their friends, from trusted members of staff, and from their safe environment, the true cost of the closure began to emerge and has been captured on film as a stark reminder to future generations of how our country behaved during one of its darkest hours.

However, whilst the immediate impact on families was obvious, we always knew it would take time for the trauma of what happened to become evident in the lives of the people so badly affected by the corruption which caused our school to close.

“It was by far the worst experience of my life”

“It was worse than a family bereavement”

“I cannot put into words the pain we feel”

Families have been torn apart and young lives ruined. As Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACES) go, this will for some be the most extreme they have ever suffered. And the impact will be long-lasting.

Despite assurances from the Deputy First Minister that all pupils would be supported in the aftermath of that tragic event, for many, this has not materialised.

Some are still stuck at home 10 months on, with no school to go to and all hope of a ‘normal life’ destroyed.

The trust of others in the adults around them has also been destroyed and never again will they feel confident that their rights will be protected and their safety assured.

We must remember that not one young person or their parents was consulted before decisions were taken about them, and not one wanted to leave their safe and caring learning environment.

Unless a full investigation takes place not only into the corruption that caused the school to close but the failings evident in that final week, and the catastrophic inadequacy that some local authorities demonstrated in the aftermath, lessons will not be learnt.

This most shameful of episodes in Scotland’s long history of education and care will be felt by some for years to come.

And the true cost of what happened is being borne by the innocent victims of an truly appalling scandal.

Our thoughts just now are with one family that has suffered more than most, and are prayers are with them as they contemplate the days, months, and years ahead.

From a former member of staff:

“We stand together. If one is hurting, we are all hurting. I personally believe in the power of prayer. It unites, instills a strong resolve and somehow gives us a strength greater than what we believe we have. For those who don't believe in the power of prayer, then just focus your thoughts and energy on the pains of those who might be suffering. They will feel of your strength and support which in turn will strengthen them. My TNS family will always be in my thoughts and prayers. Let's stay strong and see this thing through. We are all connected”

Also: Waste, mismanagement and poor service: MSPs' report slams Scotland's public sector

By Ron McKay

Bill Colley