Closure of the New School Butterstone: independent review report

The Deputy First Minister and Cabinet Secretary for Education and Skills commissioned this independent review, conducted by James Martin CBE, into the closure of the New School Butterstone to consider the procedures and circumstances which led to the closure.

Annex E: List of key dates May to December 2018

May 2018:

Monday 21: Contact between Head of School B and Witherslack is made.

Tuesday 22: The Care Inspectorate impose requirements and recommendations on the School following their inspection in early May 2018. (The publication date of the report (the date when the requirements and recommendations would be formally made) was 13 July 2018).

Thursday 31: Previous incidents dating back to March and May 2017 are reported to the Care Inspectorate, as a result of the May 2018 inspection.


Thursday 7: Witherslack management visit the School.

Thursday 14: The School challenges the findings of the Care Inspectorate inspection of May 2018.


Tuesday 10 : The Care Inspectorate meets the School to discuss the submission of 14 June 2018.

Friday 13: The Care Inspectorate Report is published.

Sunday 22: An email from the Board of the School to Witherslack indicating that if Witherslack do not purchase, the School it will close.

Wednesday 25: Witherslack visit the School, under supervision due to Protecting Vulnerable Groups (PVG) scheme restrictions, and begin to review files.


Wednesday 8: An Action Plan, following the May 2018 inspection, is submitted by to the School to the Care Inspectorate.

Tuesday 21: HM Inspectors publish their May 2018 Inspection Report.


Monday 3: Witherslack staff remain on an accompanied basis due to PVG restrictions.

Monday 17: The Head of Care reports to the Board asking for more training in her role.

Sunday 23: A letter is sent to Head of School B setting out concerns about incidents on 11 and 20 September 2018.

Monday 24: This letter is received by Head of School B.

Witherslack apply to register their new service.

Wednesday 26: The Care Inspectorate and HM Inspectors visit the School to assess progress post inspection. Witherslack attend the meeting.


Tuesday 2: Head of School B asks for more training for himself and the Deputy Child Protection Officer.

Wednesday 3: Police Scotland are called to the School to help search for a missing pupil. The Care Inspectorate are informed of the incident on 4 October 2018.

Sunday 14: Head of School B visits Witherslack. Witherslack criticise the Head of School's performance and recommend streamlining the Head of School role. Witherslack agree to attend the School to help develop care plans and associated paperwork. The Head of School believes the lead Witherslack officer "appears to lack knowledge of the Scottish system."

Monday 22: The Care Inspectorate receive a complaint about the incidents of 11 and 20 September 2018.

Friday 26: The Care Inspectorate are contacted by the Perth and Kinross Council Child Protection Officer to say that a constituent has contacted their elected member raising concerns about incidents at the school. The complaint is forwarded to Police Scotland. Police call the Head of School naming the staff alleged to be involved. The Head of School is asked to carry out a risk assessment to ensure the safety of staff and pupils involved.

Saturday 27: Head of School B writes to the Care Inspectorate setting out their rationale as to why the matter is not child protection matter. Head of School B also indicates that two staff members have been removed from duties involving contact with pupils and that the Board has been informed.

Tuesday 30: An IRD meeting is held in Perth to discuss the referral from the Care Inspectorate. Among others the meeting is attended by representatives from Police Scotland, the School, Perth and Kinross Council and the Care Inspectorate. Witherslack also have representation at the meeting.

Monday 29: Witherslack staff PVG checks complete.

Wednesday 31: There is an exchange of emails between the Care Inspectorate and the Chair of the Board about the process to be followed particularly around the IRD investigation.


Friday 2: Police Scotland inform IRD participants that, after interviewing pupils, they are satisfied that no criminal activity is involved.

The Care Inspectorate inform the School that, in light of the School's handling of the incidents, they intend to serve an Improvement and possible Enforcement Notice on the School.

The Chair of the School Board emails the Board to inform them of the complaint made about the School, the IRD investigation and the likelihood of an Improvement Notice being served.

Friday 2 to Sunday 4: There is an email exchange between the Chair of the School Board and Head of School B around the incident.

Tuesday 6: Witherslack seek a meeting with the Board and indicate that they will pull out of the Business Transfer Agreement citing a number of issues including weak school leadership and safeguarding issues. Witherslack confirm that they will see out the management agreement, which is due to run until 24 December 2018. The Board asks Witherslack to review safeguarding and to investigate the incidents in the letter, and how they were handled by the School. Witherslack agree and set up 2 separate reviews.

Wednesday 7: Head of School B is suspended by the Board. Witherslack agree to provide an interim Head of School.

Wednesday 7 to Thursday 15: Witherslack's investigation and report into the incident raised in the whistleblowing letter is made. It finds serious concerns around how the matter was handled by the school and raises further safeguarding concerns.

Thursday 8: The Chair of the School Board writes to the Registrar re the suspension of Head of School B, noting the failure of Head of School B to recognise the letter and the allegations it contained as a child protection issue.

A meeting is held at the School between the Board, the Care Inspectorate and HM inspectors. Witherslack are in attendance and make the agencies aware of their decision to withdraw.

Friday 9: The Care Inspectorate issue an Improvement Notice indicating that non-compliance with the terms of the Improvement Notice could lead to the issuing of an Enforcement Notice, which would mean that the School could no longer operate.

Saturday 10: The Witherslack Report into Safeguarding is given to the Board. It recommends closing the School as soon as possible in order to guarantee the safety of pupils.

Thursday 15: The Registrar writes to the School to advise of conditions being placed on the school by Scottish Ministers.

Friday 16: The Head of Care thanks Witherslack for handling issues around the Improvement Notice.

The Board meet and decide that, because of the Witherslack withdrawal from the Business Transfer Agreement, the School would almost inevitably need to close at the end of the Christmas term. Witherslack intimate to the Chair of the Board its intention to withdraw from the management agreement on 23 November 2018.

Thursday 16: The Board meet and decide that, because of the Witherslack withdrawal, the School would need to close.

Sunday 18: Head of School B writes to the Chair advocating the closure of the School in response to what Head of School B regards as a Care Inspectorate plan to have the School close.

Monday 19: The Board meets with HM Inspectors, the Care Inspectorate and Perth and Kinross Council representatives and announce the decision to close the school 4 days later on 23 November 2018.

Monday 19 to Friday 23: Arrangements are made to inform staff, pupils, parents, carers and placing authorities that the school will close to manage the run down to closure.

Friday 23: The School closes.


August 2022: The entry for Sunday, 14 October has been contested by Head of School B, who asserts that no evidence exists to suggest that he visited Witherslack on 14 October 2018 nor that Witherslack personnel criticised his performance in any way. The report is the work of the independent reviewer, James Martin. The Scottish Government has seen evidence that Head of School B was not in the UK on 14 October 2018. As the records of the review have been destroyed in accordance with data management policy, this cannot be investigated further by the Scottish Government.



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