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Swinney will blame Board of Governors for closure

John Swinney has already attempted to distance himself from the crticial decision he took to impose conditions on the school in November on the basis of the evidence supplied to him by the Registrar of Independent Schools, and dismissed this as a factor in the withdrawal of Witherslack.

This does not stand up to any basic scrutiny because Witherslack announced their withdrawal on 5th November, immediately after the care Inspectorate stated that they would be taking enforcement and Swinney imposed those conditions.

These and the enforcement action taken by the Care Inspectorate were clearly illegal as not one piece of evidence has emerged of any wrongdoing in the school, but they clearly led to the collapse of the takeover agreement when Withrslack realised what they would be up against.

Swinney himself wrote in a letter to Bill Colley that his own actions must have been correct because Andrew Cubie stated that there had been a ‘failure to report a child protection’ matter to either the Board or the regulators.

This makes no sense for the following reasons:

  1. The police investigation had already shown that the note was read correctly by school managers

  2. Cubie had not seen the staff note before making his judgement

  3. Cubie did not ask school managers about the note but just relied instead on what the Care Inspectorate told him - an extraordinarily foolish thing to do when it was already known that they were working with PKC to force closure of the school

  4. The Board was not managing the school at the time so there could not have been a failure to report to them. We also now know that there was no management agreement in place regarding reporting functions, that the Head had no job specification, and that he did not have a contract.

  5. It was not the Head of School’s responsibility to report child protection matters. He only took the suspension to protect his Head of Care from further bullying from the Care Inspectorate

  6. The Care Inspectorate had not seen the original note so could not pass judgement on what it said, and nor could they advise Cubie to suspend the Head. In fact their actions in this and in insisting that 2 members of staff remain suspended after the police investigation were both unlawful

  7. Cubie was not qualified to make any judgement about child protection matters - he just fell hook, line, and sinker, for everything he was told by the Care Inspectorate rather than seeking independent advice

The Care Inspectorate have also stated that if their enforcement action was indeed ‘illegal’ it was up to the school to challenge it at the time.

Which the Board did not.

All of this points to Sir Andrew Cubie becoming the fall-guy for the whole fiasco.

In such circumstances you would expect the Board to be demanding a full independent investigation into how they were so badly deceived.

Unless of course any such investigation would reveal their own naivety and critically poor decision-making.

So that is why they are refusing to answer legitimate questions from former staff and parents. The whole affair would destroy the reputations of Board members if it were made public and thus it is far better to allow innocent members of staff to suffer. It is also the reason they have not contacted Swinney to demand that an investigation takes place.

Once we find out what the Care Inspectorate told Swinney (via the Registrar), all will become clear. We await the Information Commissioner’s judgement with baited breath.

The legacy left by the Board of Governors is the destruction of a safe school community, long-lasting trauma to staff, pupils, and parents, significant financial hardship to former employees, and innocent managers tarred as being ‘unsafe’ and ‘unprofessional’.

The harm that the Board have done can never be repaired, but we must remember that it was PKC and the Care Inspectorate that set the whole thing up in the first place.

It appears that in the Scottish education and care systems, there is no-one who can be trusted and respected.

Bill Colley