Over the course of a very few years around 2013, Rothesay Joint Campus had a series of six official complaints against it upheld. That alone would have been of serious concern; but these complaints focused on a specific and fundamentally disturbing area of failure.
- Upheld: a complaint made under Section 70 of the Education Act Scotland 1980. Such complaints relate to alleged failures by education authorities to carry out duties imposed on them by law. According to this section, an education authority has a duty to make adequate and efficient provision for the additional support needs of a child or young person who has those needs.
- Upheld: a Disability Discrimination case made under the Equalities Act 2010.
- Upheld: a complaint to the Scottish Public Services Ombudsman [SPSO] made about the failure to follow Child Protection procedures. [The child who was the subject of this complaint was excluded by the school – an action later overruled by the Argyll and Bute Council’s education department.]
- Upheld: another complaint to the SPSO on failures to communicate appropriately with parents, keep due records and confront the issue of additional support needs in the school for children with learning difficulties. We also understand that the council was ordered to apologise to a particular family on this matter and failed to do so within the given time period – a moral and spiritual poverty that beggars belief.
- Upheld: a complaint about the exclusion of a child with Aspergers Syndrome – which was reversed by Argyll and Bute Council’s Education Appeal Committee.
- Upheld: a complaint to the Information Commission made under the Data Protection Act 1998 against the council – which involved confidential data about families on the island being illegally released.
One of these related to a stand-out case in 2012 – where endemic regular victimisation of the differently able in the school – in which the role of some staff was ambivalent – manifested itself in years of bullying of a boy with Aspergers Syndrome – of which the council was aware. This bullying reached a point where NINE male pupils later confessed to acts as serious as criminal assault.
The complaint upheld in 2013 by the Scottish Public Service Ombudsman was about the failure properly to address a complaint by a parent about inappropriate sexual comments made to a 14 year old girl by a teaching assistant.
Argyll and Bute Council’s education department was, in any one’s eyes, criminally culpable in its failure to take action to redeem a situation of this order in one of its schools: a situation of which it was fully aware and a situation which might never have been addressed at all had not the local newspaper, The Buteman, reported on the matter and escalated it into the wider public domain.
At least a year after being formally advised of the 2013 incident, the Council arranged a secondment for the Head Teacher who, while not the whole of the problem, was the heart of it and arguably its genesis.
We understand that there was prima facie evidence to sack her – yet no attempt was made to do that. She has been retained in other guises on her full and substantial salary as Head Teacher of a sizeable school.
The secondment to which the Head Teacher was moved was, astonishingly, to work on Continuing Professional Development for Staff.
This Head Teacher’s recommendation on such a subject would make curious reading – whether anyone would choose to follow the advice of someone with this track record in performance is another matter.
And where is she now?
It gets much worse.
With the specific failures of this Head Teacher to empathise with, feel and take any responsibility for vulnerable young people in her professional care, knowingly leaving them continually open to abuse, she is currently in charge of the Health and Wellbeing of school age children in Argyll and Bute.
This is a former Head Teacher who, over a period of years, serially betrayed her professional duty to care for the health and wellbeing of children entrusted to her.
The cost of continuing to pay her salary, while also paying for her post to be filled from elsewhere, has seen the local authority make at least one other teacher redundant and lay off support assistants – the very people who work most closely with children with disabilities, those who have been so badly let down.
The redundant Head Teacher’s salary would employ around three or four support assistants.
And today, in the light of her track record, the nature of her latest post beggars belief.
Have Argyll and Bute Council’s responsible Education Director and Director of Community Services, Cleland Sneddon and responsible Chief Executive, Sally Loudon NO judgment whatsoever, NO sense of what is utterly inappropriate?
The former Head Teacher can have no sense of discretion either, in imagining that this was ever a fitting job to accept, given her track record.