Just words

The final week

“It appeared to be deliberately cruel”

The Board of Governors was forced to announce the closure of the school on Monday 19th November, 2018 (“the Care Inspectorate held a gun to our heads”).

On Tuesday 20th, a team of ‘external advisers’ comprised of officers from Education Scotland, the Care Inspectorate, and Perth & Kinross Council arrived in school to support the acting Head of School (from the Witherslack Group). All key decisons in the final 4 days of the school were made by this group and not by school staff who knew the pupils and understood their needs.

School staff documented the final week in a disturbing report which is currently being examined by the office of the Children’s Commissioner for Children and Young People. They allege that;

  • Pupils were traumatised by the lack of care and consideration shown by the external ‘managers’

  • Pupils were not consulted on key decisions being made about them, contrary to national guidance

  • Parents were not consulted on key decisions being made about their children, contrary to national guidance

  • National transitions guidance was not followed by external managers

  • Pupils were denied their rights as set out in the United Nations Charter on the Rights of the Child

  • Pupils were not offered any advocacy service to help them express their views when key decisions were being taken about them

  • Pupils were not permitted to celebrate their achievements despite practising for this for months

  • Pupils and families were not permitted to achieve any form of closure at the termination of their placements

  • Placements were terminated without the planning advised by………the Care Inspectorate

  • Pupils were not permitted to say goodbye to each other

  • Pupils were not permitted to say goodbye to trusted members of staff and their key workers

Amongst the comments received from staff were the following;

  • “The final week appeared to be deliberately cruel to our kids”

  • “This was the worst week of my life. It was worse than a family bereavement”

  • “The level of cruelty shocked us all”

  • “It became apparent very quickly that the external managers did not understand pupil needs nor how to run a school”

  • “I did not come into teaching to witness such evil taking place in front of my own eyes. There was nothing we could do to stop it. I feel ashamed”

  • “If this is how the authorities think a school should be run, it is no wonder that Scottish ASN education is at the point of collapse”

  • “As Head of School, I failed the kids. My first job was to protect them and I failed.”

Parents have also documented their own experiences in filmed interviews. They have stated that;

  • “Overnight, the school became a cold place. You got no eye contact from the external managers. They were arrogant and aloof”

  • “The trauma of that last week will last with [name] for a lifetime. It will never be repaired”

  • “We went from dealing with people we knew and trusted, to those who lied to us as if we did not matter”

  • “My greatest fear now is having to deal with the council. There is not one person I trust”

The question must be asked, “Why did the Governors allow such poorly trained and inexperienced ‘professionals’ in to the school to cause so much harm to pupils?”