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.


9 Responses to Leaked Minutes Describe Chief Exec’s Role In Governors’ Meeting

  1. Maverich September 13, 2012 at 1:21 pm

    Surely somebody’s head should roll for this, its a “cock up” of epic proportions. Does anyone at the Council have ANY accountability to anyone on the Islands? What is the point of having elections for local councillors if they don’t have much of a say in how the Islands are run?. This has gone way to far now. Isn’t there any Councillors on Scilly that are ready to stand up after being elected by the public and say Enough is Enough, before potentially Scilly Implodes on its self. I suspect Bryce Wilbys biggest mistake was mentioning the words “Academy Status”

  2. Todd Stevens September 11, 2012 at 11:04 pm

    Direct action? I’d support that! The trouble is that I think people here are far too reserved for it. I fear they would rather live with the problems for another 20 years.

  3. Stuat September 11, 2012 at 7:14 pm

    I am in favour of direct action, sit in the road, things like that, go into the lobby of the town hall, mob-handed, and say ‘we are not going to move’.”

    Dot Gibson – general secretary, National Pensioners’ Convention

    Telegraph: http://bit.ly/OBNxvq

  4. Maverich September 11, 2012 at 2:20 pm

    I was on St Mary’s for 16 months and both my children attended and still do attend the Five Islands School. I was the Chairperson of the PTA whilst living on St Mary’s and met with Mr Bryce Wilby many times in the School. I have nothing but praise for Bryce and so have my Children. This whole investigation seems very suspicious but I do know in my conversations with Bryce that he was looking at pursuing Academy Status for the School prior to his suspension, which would of taken control from the Council – Coincidental maybe? I feel the way this matter has been handled and the possible damage to Bryce’s reputation has been handled very badly by the people involved.

  5. badger September 11, 2012 at 1:56 pm

    One might also be concerned as to the access protection on the minutes themselves! if someone was to leek minutes it would make sense only to leek those minutes that supports ones side…jus’ sayin’. Probably still isn’t the whole picture.

  6. pat September 11, 2012 at 9:08 am

    what more can we all say. yes the head perhaps did not do his job very well… but did he deserve to have his character assassinated like that. what it has done to these islands has dIvided us once again, friends are divided . and some people are so busy saving there own necks they’v put friendships in jeopardy. hey we all make mistakes . it takes a better and honest person to admit it,. AND it is time the officers are made accountable for their invololvement in all this sorry saga..
    I’ll tell you now if this is not sorted out properly now, it will happen again. how many heads have we gone thro the last 15 years. we’ll be lucky to get any decent heads interested in coming over here with the reputation this Authority has.

  7. Diane Cidade September 10, 2012 at 8:53 pm

    Correct me if I’m wrong, but did an off-island school not have to deal with bonafide child pornography charges being brought against one of its staff? Why the theatrics then, when it’s been stated time and time again that the police are not and were not involved in any investigation in regards to Mr. Wilby’s suspension and that these supposed images aren’t even illegal? And it’s the most grave thing Mr. Hygate has been privy to? I’m truly baffled by this revelation.

  8. Todd Stevens September 10, 2012 at 7:21 pm

    Malfeasance & Misfeasance??

  9. Cassandra September 10, 2012 at 12:57 pm

    One relatively small but potentially important point in all of this is the access protection on Bryce Wilby’s computer. I think it was in the Radio Scilly interview with David Pearson where it was claimed that facial recognition software was used to control access while I’ve read another report on Radio Scilly that it was via a password which was often left on a post-it-note stuck to the screen.