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From the Head of Care

I am former Head of Care, Angie Gordon and I wanted to share my thoughts with you. 

On 7th November Bill was suspended and I couldn’t comprehend how that could be happening. I remember he was in his office along with 2 members of Witherslack staff. He stopped at my office to say he was leaving as he had been suspended and had been informed he could not be on school premises. I was stunned. I couldn’t make sense of what was happening. I still can’t.

I initially thought I should look at any possible reasons that could be given as to why this had occurred and examine them in order to provide accurate information or evidence to support him. I knew only too well the lengths that those who wanted the school closed would go to in order for their wish to become reality.

When the PKC complaint came to the school in January 2018 I, along with the Head of School and the acting Head of Education, responded to each of the criticisms with evidence of the good work we were doing and was able to show how the ‘failings’ they highlighted actually showed their lack of understanding of those young people’s particular needs. We were able to show in each example given by PKC just how well the young people were being supported, how much they had achieved and how much they were still achieving. When the response was sent back to the Registrar of Independent Schools I expected them to be in touch saying they had examined the complaint in detail and then provide praise for the good work we were doing. I expected that to be the end of the process but it wasn’t. They recommended mediation between TNS and PKC as well as some additional training for school staff. I was surprised by this as it appeared that even after all the evidence provided they still felt that an amount of further training was required. We engaged the recommended training and had a date in the diary very soon after we received the response.

I said that I was surprised by the RoIS response but I wasn’t as surprised as Sheena Devlin at PKC. She said in an email trail (to Jacquie Pepper, Susie Turner and Mary Notman) which I have read through FOI docs “Like you, Rodger and I are disappointed with the weak, incoherent responses received here. I have suggested that we respond expressing our concerns and this should be a joint response”. Jacquie Pepper described the RoIS response as “disappointing” and Susie Turner says “I would have to say it’s a little different from what we expected”. What exactly were they expecting? Why has this complaint never been examined fully and why were PKC so dead against releasing it to parents?

My previous experience of challenging the PKC complaint and getting nowhere meant that I could no longer trust that my efforts to provide evidence and information relating to whatever case they had suspended him for would actually be considered. What could i do? How could I prove that he was leading the school towards success and that young people, parents and staff held him in high regard. I needed to be bold. Shortly after his suspension I asked the school staff and the governors to complete feedback forms. No governors responded however here are some examples of staff feedback :

1. Since Bill started in April 2018 I have felt fully supported by the Head of School. He has managed to bring in more placements in 8 months than had been the case for 12 months previously. He is knowledgeable and experienced. He has brought structure to School which has provided a predictable routine for young people who feel safe and secure. The impact he has had across departments has been hugely positive and all the staff appear to have confidence in him. I have learned a great deal from him and respect his integrity. The School has continued due to him.  

2. There has been a vast improvement since the appointment of Bill in April. It’s clear for all to see the development of the school with Bill. He is a fair and diligent head who takes time to listen and support his staff. He is everything a good leader should be. His skill set is so that instils confidence in the individual. 

3. The head teacher has provided a concrete and positive influence on all management, teachers, students, care and the wider School Community.  His expertise and experience has provide the School with a purpose for improvement and growth. The head teachers support and guidance has assisted the management to perform their daily duties successfully, consistently and purposefully. The head teachers input towards School improvement has resulted in the whole School community having a shared understanding of the strengths and improvement needs of the School. The head teacher empower staff and take steps to develop leadership at all levels to improve the overall capacity of the School. The head teacher ensures the appropriate behaviour management protocols are consistent and unified.  

This is not the case where I have picked out the 3 good ones. This is where I have selected 3 comments out of all of the good feedback. The compiled feedback can be found on the website – please read.

Feedback from the residential students as follows :

Feedback from the Residential Students : November 2018 – prior to closure



Bill Colley