September 23, 2023

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South Lanarkshire Faculty: Training Secretary accused of failing to behave

South Lanarkshire Faculty: Training Secretary accused of failing to behave

A senior school determine has written to Nicola Sturgeon to accuse the Training Secretary and key nationwide businesses of failing to interfere over alleged governance breaches.

In a letter to the First Minister, the creator says Shirley-Anne Somerville and organisations such because the Scottish Investment Council (SFC) have been approached referring to severe problems at South Lanarkshire Faculty (SLC).

However the extremely detailed missive, which has been observed by way of The Bring in, warns no efficient growth motion used to be taken and stresses that elementary screw ups are proceeding. It additionally urges Ms Sturgeon to authorise rapid govt involvement.

Kenny MacAskill, Alba Birthday party MP for East Lothian and a former Scottish justice secretary, mentioned it used to be transparent there used to be one thing “rotten” on the middle of SLC which might wish to be “rooted out”. SLC has insisted its company governance preparations are “powerful”.

The most recent tendencies come after SLC foremost Aileen McKechnie and Brian Keegan, meantime clerk to the board of control, have been suspended right through an bizarre assembly in November remaining yr.

SLC mentioned the verdict used to be reached so court cases towards Ms McKechnie, Mr Keegan and board chair Andy Kerr may well be investigated. Mr Kerr, a former Labour minister, voluntarily stepped excluding his position at some point of the inquiries, which might be ongoing.

READ MORE: Team of workers accused of dishonest South Lanarkshire Faculty ‘to construct and service’ personal properties

Ms McKechnie had in the past commissioned a forensic investigation into claims of robbery and malfeasance once they have been won in September 2020. The Bring in printed remaining month how the allegations incorporated court cases that personnel had “in my opinion benefited” from the usage of school fabrics and time to “construct, type and service” their properties and different homes.

She used to be additionally instrumental within the release of an SFC initial evaluate, finished on the finish of August 2021, that sought to deal with primary governance problems and “strained relationships” at SLC.

Nationwide auditors later known spaces the place the varsity had no longer absolutely complied with the code of excellent governance. This incorporated the board no longer assembly for 5 months from June 2021, and the audit and possibility committee no longer assembly for 6 months from Might 2021.

The letter to Ms Sturgeon, which is dated Might 23, 2022, says the SFC, the Scottish Executive and different organisations have been requested for lend a hand on how absolute best to deal with historical governance issues and wider problems at SLC. Considerably, it says the Training Secretary and her officers have been amongst the ones alerted by way of Ms McKechnie and senior colleagues. Consistent with the letter, the varsity management despatched Ms Somerville a collective whistleblowing criticism on November 23 remaining yr – simply days earlier than the foremost and Mr Keegan have been suspended. Alternatively, the creator claims not one of the related businesses took mitigating motion.

South Lanarkshire Faculty: Training Secretary accused of failing to behaveFaculty foremost Aileen McKechnie stays suspended.

The record additionally highlights how the SFC has equipped assurances to ministers that due procedure is being adopted. Its creator insists this isn’t the case and refers to breaches in spaces together with regulation, the code of excellent governance, phrases and stipulations of appointment, the board member code of habits, and faculty coverage and procedures.

The SFC comes underneath additional hearth, with the letter stressing that its initial evaluate has no longer resulted in a complete evaluate, even if there are ongoing problems at SLC. It notes that investigations into court cases towards senior figures, together with board contributors, have ended in criminal prices to the varsity that exceed £250,000. As well as, the missive claims there’s a systemic loss of passion in making sure governance issues are addressed.

Responding to its contents, Mr MacAskill mentioned: “There’s one thing rotten on the middle of South Lanarkshire Faculty and it calls for rooted out.

“There’s transparent proof of malfeasance and but the ones in search of to deal with it in finding themselves the sufferers. The Scottish Executive has long gone awol and the Scottish Investment Council in finding themselves implicated by way of the movements in their leader government in maintaining what is obviously amiss.

“Motion wishes taken, wrongdoing tackled and the ones in search of to do proper supported.”

READ MORE: SNP deputy Westminster chief drawn into school ‘scandal’

An SFC spokesman stressed out that the organisation commissioned an “impartial initial evaluate” after being alerted to “attainable” SLC governance problems. He added: “The evaluate record made quite a few suggestions, and the varsity used to be requested to increase a governance growth plan according to those.

“The board of South Lanarkshire Faculty has since been reinforced in the course of the addition of latest contributors and an meantime foremost has been appointed by way of the varsity to make sure it continues to ship for freshmen and its wider neighborhood.

“SFC stays engaged with the Regional Strategic Frame and with South Lanarkshire Faculty to make sure it continues to reinforce its governance preparations and to protected a just right, productive studying enjoy for college kids.”

An SLC spokesman mentioned investigations into court cases towards Ms McKechnie, Mr Keegan and Mr Kerr have been ongoing. He added: “Ms McKechnie and Mr Keegan stay suspended. Mr Kerr continues to face down as chair of the board of control. The varsity continues to supply a high quality studying enjoy supported by way of powerful company governance.”

A Scottish Executive spokesman mentioned: “Ministers’ paramount passion is safeguarding the standard of studying at South Lanarkshire Faculty, and prime requirements of governance are the most important in making sure this.

“The Scottish Investment Council, because the frame with duty for investigating governance problems, will proceed to observe the location and supply updates to the Scottish Executive.”