Leaked Minutes Describe Chief Exec’s Role In Governors’ Meeting

The Five Islands School

The leaked minutes from a Five Islands School governors meeting show that the Council chief executive personally presented allegations over Bryce Wilby’s alleged misuse of a laptop.

But the meeting minutes also reveal concerns were voiced over the involvement of the Council of the Isles of Scilly in the meeting.

The record states that a governor was ‘summoned’ to the Town Hall on the afternoon of June 29th to be told that the Council chief executive and director of finance wanted to attend that evening’s meeting and share the interim report by Cornwall council auditors.

Some governors felt this short notice echoed the May 18th meeting when they had a few hours to call an emergency meeting requested by Council officers and during which they outlined their recommendation to suspend the head.

In this June 29th meeting, some governors argued that they hadn’t been able to check whether correct procedure was being followed in allowing a report on the head teacher to be aired in front of Bryce Wilby’s staff colleagues.

A call for legal advice was made but the majority of governors agreed that all members could stay.

One governor did question whether it was appropriate that acting head teacher, Liz Duffy Griffiths, stayed for the meeting. The minutes record that Mrs Griffiths, when questioned, stated that her employer, Mr Hygate, had asked her to be there. She said she had taken advice from her employer and he authorised her presence.

Council Chief Executive, Philip Hygate

In the minutes, Mr Hygate is quoted as saying he was taking the place of Penny Penn Howard, the Council’s education director, who was away. He said that Peter Lawrence was there by right, but Mr Lawrence corrected that, claiming he was invited to attend.

According to the report, the chief executive then went on to introduce the allegations of inappropriate laptop images in the most dramatic terms.

He warned that anyone who wanted to leave the room could do so. Nobody left.

It is reported that he told the governors this was, “most grave – so grave an issue, he has not been privy to anything so grave in all his 30 years of experience” and would have “grave consequences for the future of the school.”

“It was 1000 times worse than you could imagine,” he is reported as saying.

Peter Lawrence alleged that deleted images had been found on a laptop used by Bryce.

He alleged that they were all adults featured and confirmed, when asked by a governor, that no pictures were of children.

A Governor is recorded as asking if it could be determined when images were put on the computer and Mr Lawrence said that might be possible with further forensic examination.

He is recorded as saying the police service had to examine the computer, a point which was last week contested by Councillor David Pearson.

The Council press office has since told us they were not aware at that time that the auditors had made different arrangements to investigate the contents of the laptop, which meant they didn’t have to use the police service.

Bryce Wilby denies the allegation and his union spokesman says the laptop wasn’t always in his possession.

The minutes state that Mr Hygate went on to tell governors that the head teacher must not come into the school or make contact with parents, teachers and children.

Mr Lawrence concluded that there had been division between the governing body and the local authority and he hoped that this would be a time to work together for the good of the children and the good of the school.

But acting head teacher Mrs Griffiths is said to have wanted it minuted that the reported hostilities do not exist

She suggested that the role of the governors’ chairperson should be undertaken by a professional based on the mainland in order to maintain transparency.

Members have since elected St Martins resident Ben Julian into the position.


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