Interview with Angie Gordon
We asked Angie for an interview to update us on her own position following the closure of the school. This makes heartbreaking reading.
1. How have you coped with the sudden closure of the school and the accusation that your failure caused this to happen?
I have only just coped to be honest. I have had to because my busy life as a mother of 3 young sons continues regardless of the heartbreak, psychological trauma and financial loss I suffered due to the closure. The accusation that it was a failure on my part that caused the closure is actually still so painful to me I don’t think I can respond. The only thing that saved me from complete despair was the support I received from the parents (and some young people too) and staff. I could not have continued had it not been for the public and private support I received from them.
2. Would you have done anything differently?
No. I made my decisions using sound judgment, experience, referring to existing policies and with guidance from experienced colleagues. However, in the last week of school, I would have asked many more questions to many more people. I would’ve called SCIS about Bill’s suspension. I would’ve called on other independent school’s for their advice on what was happening and the poor decisions being made. I relied on the chair of the board of Governors but he was not there and gave no answers to the many questions I asked.
3. What are your abiding memories of TNS?
Friendship and future. I had young friends whom I supported and laughed with. I had friendships with staff whom I respected and looked forward to working with. This was always a benefit for me and did not make my job as a manager difficult. I miss them all. I had a bright future and was so proud to be part of something so positive for young people who more vulnerable than most.
I think the end of term services stand out for me. When the young people display their talents for all to see it is a magical moment where hearts fill to bursting point. Those students who are not ready for the limelight also find ways to contribute and significant others and staff know how they’ve do so and appreciate their efforts too.
4. What did you think of WG?
I thought Witherslack would save the school. I thought they would protect us with their policies, structure, quality assurance, IT expertise, etc. I thought they would say “You have done remarkably well to make progress with the animosity you have been facing and the limited resources you have. We are in charge now so you have the support of external management that know what they are doing and will not let you down”. When they betrayed the school with their fake safeguarding report I was disgusted and angry. I want them to be forced to answer for their actions through an independent inquiry. I was hugely concerned and confused during the final week when their acting Head of School followed guidance given by PKC, CI and Education Scotland rather than listen to myself or our Head of Education. The decisions made were cruel and made no sense.
5. How did the Board support you after Feb 2017?
The Board did not support me or the school adequately after the Feb 2017 tragedy. They offered therapy sessions with the existing counselling service for the school for which staff should self-refer. The chair of the Board said I could talk to him personally. Neither of these options were helpful options for me and a range of options with follow up checks should have been available.
I can only talk of my own mental health after the tragedy. It took me 11 months to build up the courage to access and attend a training session titled “trauma informed approach “. I spoke to the trainer after the event and he said he could support the school and the staff, including me personally. At our first session he assessed me as suffering from moderate to severe PTSD since the tragedy. He provided me with EMDR therapy.
6. How has the Board supported you since closure?
The Board have not supported me at all. They have run away from their responsibilities. Their lack of public support for me will always remind me of their betrayal. I trusted them, relied on them and stood as a barrier between angry staff and them in the final week. I will find it very difficult to forgive them for hiding away from this. As one governor said in my “disciplinary meeting “ in December 2018 (no further action was the outcome) “I mean.. who would want an Independent Inquiry?”. I think that says it all.
7. What are your thoughts on the Care Inspectorate?
I wouldn’t trust the Care Inspectorate to assess any service fairly. They are working with hidden agendas and no integrity. It appears their senior management are corrupt and their inspectors are just carrying out instructions rather than challenging them. I am very worried that the vulnerable in our society are not being protected by the safety measures that the regulators should be ensuring are in place. I have zero confidence in the ability of the Care Inspectorate.
“Angie is one of the most caring and professional colleagues that I have the the privilege to work with in 35 years”
Bill Colley (Former Head of School)