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.

Chapter 7: Recommendations

7.1 As set out at the beginning of this report, this Review was commissioned to gather relevant information, which would determine whether any lessons may be learned from the closure of the School. I believe that the Review has brought together a full picture of the events leading up to the School closure, which will enable the Relevant Bodies, staff and other organisations, to reflect on ways that their approach might be improved for the future. While recognising that much of the Review arises from the particular circumstances faced by the School, it may well be that other independent school Boards and local authorities can find lessons that they might learn from the experience of the New School Butterstone. I therefore recommend that this Report should be widely circulated among them.

7.2 I have also considered ways that I feel practice could be improved in relation to external relations, processes, support and guidance, safeguarding and communication, and have set out some suggestions below.

7.3 In order to minimise the impact of a breakdown in external relations between a school and other Relevant Bodies in the future, I ask HM Inspectors, the Care Inspectorate and the Registrar to work together to consider how best to embed mediation, or similar relationship building activities, in recommendations and requirements where required. This would include monitoring feedback from the school on the outcome of such activity.

7.4 I also suggest that Perth and Kinross Council review the impact of their approach to the School, over the period of the Review.

7.5 In relation to professional development for those holding key positions, I suggest that HM Inspectors, the Care Inspectorate and the Registrar jointly agree a way to encourage the Boards of independent schools of this type to ensure that they are able to scrutinise closely the safeguarding decisions of those holding positions similar to that of the School's Head of School and Head of Care. I am not suggesting that these schools should be singled out, more that guidance should be published highlighting the need for Boards to assure themselves that they are equipped to consider in detail the actions of those working directly to them.

7.6 In terms of the simple practicalities of ensuring that inspection processes are clearly understood, I would encourage the Care Inspectorate and HM Inspectors to ensure their assessment criteria and processes are always published, or shared with a School, in advance of inspections.

7.7 Similarly, I would welcome the publishing of clear guidance for independent schools on the roles and responsibilities of the Care Inspectorate, HM Inspectors, local authorities and the Registrar, written in a way that parents and carers will understand. I also suggest that a plain English guide on complaint procedures of independent schools should be published.

7.8 The rapid closure of the School undoubtedly had a huge impact on all of those involved. The boards of independent schools should already be aware that cancellation of service legislation exists for all types of care service (under section 64 and section 65 of the Public Services Reform (Scotland) Act 2010). However, I would encourage the Care Inspectorate to use this Review, to highlight to other schools of this type, the need for sufficient time to be considered regarding closures to enable relevant bodies and organisations to plan for the best outcome for the associated young people, carers, parents and local authorities.

7.9 In addition, I would like the Registrar and HM Inspectors to use this Review, and its learning, as an example of how important it is for schools to evaluate regularly the effectiveness and impact of their policies, procedures and training/professional learning approaches for safeguarding, building on How Good is Our School? (2015), Quality Indicator 2.1 Child Protection and Safeguarding in order to do this.

7.10 I hope that in explaining the circumstances of the New School Butterstone closure, there will be greater clarity for all those involved on the actions and decisions that were taken. Furthermore, by encouraging the need for an ongoing, joined-up discussion around lessons learned, I believe that improved processes and information could be put in place.



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