Head Teacher’s Wife Unhappy With Interview Conditions

Maria Wilby

The wife of the former Five Islands School head teacher is unhappy with the conditions Cornwall auditors are placing on their meeting with Bryce Wilby.

The Diocese’s offer of premises for the interview on Friday has been declined in favour of Cornwall Council’s own offices in Wadebridge.

Maria Wilby says she’s pleased that the meeting is happening but would have preferred to meet on ‘neutral ground.’ She says she has doubts about how the audit has been carried out, particularly following the closure then reopening of the investigation before Mr WIlby had a chance to put his side of the case.

Maria says she is also unhappy that the auditors have written to say that Diocese Director of Education, Sue Green, won’t be allowed to attend. Maria wanted her there as a neutral observer. A letter from the auditors states that the governors and their client, the Council, don’t feel that would be appropriate.

Last night Council Chairman Mike Hicks said he wasn’t aware of it and didn’t feel they had “any sway” over Sue Green’s attendance.

Bryce will be quizzed over travel, accommodation, supplies and services, the solar panels, and a special payment to the former chair of governors.

Inappropriate images allegedly found on his laptop are also on the agenda. Maria feels that is odd because Bryce was suspended on financial allegations, but she says he has answers that cast serious doubt on those allegations.

The email from the auditors also states that that they will not be discussing process, actions of the Isles of Scilly Council, its Officers, Members or those of the school’s governing body within the meeting.


42 Responses to Head Teacher’s Wife Unhappy With Interview Conditions

  1. Nobby Nobbs October 18, 2012 at 2:46 pm

    A quicker way round the ios councils willingness to share information with the public who fund it would be to put a foi request into Cornwall council and ask them how much they’ve invoiced the ios council in regard to legal action taken against the ceo or taken by the ceo

  2. Fran Grottick October 18, 2012 at 9:50 am

    Well, Stavropol,
    I suppose you could try framing a “freedom of information request”
    However, just one recent example , shows you may have a bit of a wait.
    There is a current FOI request re. a Standards issue which has gone to the Information Commisioner in view of a delayed response.
    He gave the 20th September as a date by which the Council had to examine their non-compliance.
    I believe the questioner(Radio Scilly) had no reply prior to Keri going on holiday.
    When he get’s back,rested and refreshed, I am sure he’ll try again.

  3. IanT October 18, 2012 at 9:14 am

    Freedom of Information Act should get you access to the Council’s spend but you may have to persist to get it..!

  4. Stavropol October 16, 2012 at 11:19 am

    I wonder if anyone can find out how much the council has had to pay out in lawsuits since the current CEO was appointed? I doubt it is available but also, how much lawsuits have cost the CEO personally?
    Who or how can we ask, anyone know?

  5. Stavropol October 14, 2012 at 11:33 am

    I would completely agree with Jenny unfortunately. I can recall a rather poor decision way back in the early nineties when the council, lead as it is now, took over the airport, and lost some cases against their actions, costing the tax payer dearly. That did not stop them, and many cases have since ended as Jenny describes. Yes, a sad reflection on attitude of one senior council officer, one can see how the arrogant and aloof impression has been built.

  6. Jenny Green October 13, 2012 at 8:35 pm

    After hearing Mr W this morning on the radio, it seems that he intends to sue the I.O.S Council. This will probably take 2 years, many thousands of the community tax payers £s before it even gets to court, if it ever does. The ususal outcome is a pay out for the complaintive, gagging clause, a nutral statement, saying..”both sides made mistkaes, we have all taken something from this and now it is time to move forward……” At least one Council officer, who is near retirement age, takes early retirement, with their pension fully paid up, so they do not loose out. Win win for everyone, except the community tax payer, but then, when did that ever matter.
    Cynical, yes, but everso likely.

  7. Rincewind October 13, 2012 at 1:31 pm


    His statement is correct. “a lot of the accusations have no connection to me”, because they don’t involve him. The accusations that have a connection to him will be proved unfounded. Simples.

    He’s not back peddling, he’s going forward.

    The truth will come out and people will be disciplined for breaking all kinds of things like procedures and confidentiality.

    Of course the interesting point will be if the CEO of the Council has done wrong who will investigate him? Ah, he will of course as the 10 spineless councillors voted for him to keep that position.

  8. Lucy October 12, 2012 at 9:51 pm


    notice he NOW says “a lot of the accusations have no connection to me”. “A Lot”. Not I can disprove “everything”. Backpeddling much.

    • Todd Stevens October 13, 2012 at 12:34 pm

      “A lot of the accusations”- well, lucy, of course he cant say that “ALL “accusations have no connection to him- because some clearly do- and its these that he truely has to defend himself against; so his statement is perfectly reasonable. To me, wether Wilby has done any wrong or not is not my issue- mine is the way our chief officers have conducted themselves with this from the begging. Wether Wilby is found guilty or not -Im hoping that the investigators, looking into this, will turn the spotlight on the conduct of the council officers involved.

    • IanT October 13, 2012 at 12:36 pm

      You are just reading what you want into the words. It is not likely that ALL the accusations have NO connection with Bryce as, after all, he was the head and therefore should have his pulse on all school matters.

    • Diane Cidade October 13, 2012 at 2:04 pm

      Good grief, that’s shocking reasoning. We don’t know what the full list of accusations are. I think accusing him of ‘back peddling’ at this point is a bit premature particularly if it’s based on logic as loosely threaded together as yours. Why should it be up to him to disprove an accusation that has no connection to him?

      For argument’s sake, let’s say the auditors had accused him of rudely addressing an assembly of students when he was, in fact, away on business; surely the accusation has no connection to him and he is free to say so? It does not automatically point to his guilt because he’s said there are accusations which have no connection to him.

      Also, he would be lying if he said he could disprove everything, anyway. If you read further into that article you’ve so kindly shared the link to, it talks about a ‘stalemate’ on the computer issues.

      I find it troubling that it doesn’t worry you that a team of professional auditors MIGHT be accusing him of things he has no connection to and that you can so freely brush over that.

    • Pepper October 13, 2012 at 8:08 pm

      Totally agree, Lucy. I wonder if the CEO was investigated and he denied all allegations, whether everyone would rush to his defence. I think not.

      “Doing what is right is not always popular, but doing what is popular is not always right.”

      • Diane Cidade October 14, 2012 at 8:19 am

        Which part of ‘following due process’ don’t you understand?? Why are you insisting to be ignorant of the FACT that the investigation was closed before the Head Teacher was given the chance to even hear the allegations against him, even though it is what the Chairman of the Council insisted he wanted to happen all along? Doesn’t it demonstrate the poor state of our Council’s structure if our own Chairman’s wishes are so blatantly disregarded? Who is in charge then if he isn’t? Does it need a public uproar every time Mr. Hicks is to get his way? How on earth does that not worry you, Pepper? People (from the school) have indeed given their support for the CEO in the form of a petition which neither Andrew George MP or Mike Hicks, as I interpret it, knew what to do with (ie. it was pointless). Certain Councillors continue to give the CEO ‘preferential support’ by ignoring their electorate’s concerns, because it seems they think that by asking the difficult questions they would be seen to be taking ‘sides’ on the matter, which is utter nonsense. Certainly our CEO has a right to give an informed opinion on Council matters, but his word is not Gospel! I find it shameful that so many, yourself included Pepper, are choosing to ignore the facts in front of them and are so blighted by their own bias that they wouldn’t know right from wrong if it hit them in the face. Clearly from your choice of quotation you’re also oblivious that one might say that’s precisely what happened to Mr. Wilby: he made the unpopular choice. Wake up and smell the lawsuit!

  9. Samual Vimes cmdr October 12, 2012 at 1:49 pm

    Rincewind has summed it up perfectly.
    The ccc auditors are supposed to be investigating “financial irregularity’s”; I do hope this extends to ALL allegations of financial irregularity not just those that have been levelled at Mr Wilby.
    Should Mr Wilby make known to the auditors other allegations of financial irregularity made by other members of staff or council officers, then I do hope that the auditors investigate those allegations as well, otherwise it will be a very partisan inquiry and as such would have to be dismissed as not being a fair or honest account of events that have happened over the last 6 months.

    Personally I place my faith in the DFe’s enquiry.

    And as Todd says, if the staff are unhappy now, just wait until a new head is employed because they will have to deal with exactly the same issues as Bryce did which are…..
    Staff wages in relation to post
    Full or partial allocation of the dfe school budget by the ios council
    Off island school bases and Mundersley
    These things aren’t going to go away just because the vested interests want them to.

  10. Frank Gray October 12, 2012 at 1:25 pm

    Since none of us have seen either report, it is impossible to know the content/allegations contained therein. There has been a lot of rumour, scandal mongering, vested interest following by people various, those who have a gripe with the Council for personal reasons, those who have felt slighted at some time perhaps by the school or by the Council or by Council Officials or Councillors or Governors or ex-Governors. Until the reports are made public, in so far as they may be given the provisions of the Data Protection Act, there is little point in supposing or accusing as many seem to want to do to satisfy their own agendas.

    Mr Wilby has his opportunity today to talk to the Auditors and answer, if he so choses, the allegations that may be in the Auditors Report. I understood his Union were involved, in which case there would appear to be no reason for anybody else to be in attendance.

    In due course, hopefully, the Council will make the report public and the public wil then be able to form a measured view and opinion as to the facts of the matter, rather than the rumours, innuendo and gossip.

  11. Lawrence Upton October 12, 2012 at 1:16 pm

    May we avoid propaganda here? I wanted cuts called cuts and not referred euphemistically, so thanks for that; but I am rather tired of the endless assertion that the previous government caused cuts. I wouldn’t give you an old stale bread roll for any party; but there are choices and each government makes them. Repeating one side’s slogan is not helpful and is inappropriate here.
    If cuts are imposed they are every Head’s problem. Heads can refuse though there are big consequences; and I don’t know what I would do. The rest of us can be clear that they are cuts and not infer without firm evidence that it is all ok because some teachers may be poor at their job. It is not ok.

  12. Rincewind October 12, 2012 at 9:51 am


    ‘No one seems disturbed by the porno issue, I find this the most disturbing, and also, was another teacher not suspended?’

    What porno issue?, I believe that this is another example of the council & certain school teachers relatives behaving incorrectly.

    This was supposedly on the Bryce’s laptop. The council say it was handed over to the specialist police unit. They police say they never had it! The laptop is somewhere for several weeks and hey ho porn is found, call me Mr Cynical but I work in IT – if you have the knowledge & tools all kinds of things can be made to look as though something was placed there on a certain time & date.

    I’d like to know how one of the partners of a school teacher could possibly know the details of this, as it would have been confidential at the time, and then went about the town shouting their mouth off!

    As for the suspension of the other teacher – that would be the council responsible for that.

    And while I’m on me soap box. How could the John Sullivan report be given to teachers? I would be very worried now if I’d been the one who had distributed this to teaching staff. Bryce’s legal team are going to have a field day.

    I’m sure the DofE will do a good job. They should recommend that the school is placed into an academy, free of council control. Then they’ll look into the funding the school has had over the last 5 years from the council, then they’ll ask who was responsible for liaising with the DofE for the budget, then question why the school wasn’t given the full allocation and then they’ll ask why the council wouldn’t reveal what funds they received from government to the school.

    And while I’m about. Close Mundesley boarding house. What a waste of money. As one school child travels daily to school why can’t the rest of the off islanders? OK there maybe some days when the weather is unsuitable but on the mainland this happens when it snows. I believe several council workers commute daily as well so there can’t be an issue.

    That’s better!

    • Todd Stevens October 12, 2012 at 12:46 pm

      These unpopular cuts were not Willby’s problem. These have to be implemented by every Head teacher in the country. These are a problem caused by the previous Governments poor handling of the economy. Are we going to treat every Head teacher that passes this way in such a manner as this? I rather suspect the answer is- YES-given our councils track record with head teachers over the last 15 years!!

    • Pepper October 12, 2012 at 1:25 pm

      Get off your damn soapbox and smell the coffee. There’s more to this than your biased opinions – regardless of how this was done it’s always going to be the council’s fault in your eyes.

      • Rincewind October 12, 2012 at 6:38 pm

        Ah yes Pepper, you’re the one who thought that we didn’t have to pay for Mundesley Boarding because the funds came from central Government. That explains it your logic!

        You’ll see what I say will come to pass and yes in most peoples eyes the council is at fault. Why? Because they caused this mess through their own deceit. If you can’t see that you really are sad.

        Keep smiling! Up the revolution!

      • Todd Stevens October 12, 2012 at 6:58 pm

        Yep- officers are to blame here. I’m tall enough not to need a soap box, pepper-and brave enough to put my name to my comments!

  13. Lawrence Upton October 11, 2012 at 1:43 pm

    I know there is a lot I do not know about this matter, as a Londoner. Yet being closer to something does not always mean seeing it more clearly. It worries me to see sentences beginning “Obviously”. What seems obvious often is not so.

    Let us also be careful not to judge anyone in print for fear of giving them however slight a chance of claiming unfairness. If there is any truth in some of the things I have seen hinted at here are true, I would like those concerned to meet some justice.

    On the other hand, potentially, my attitude to Mr Wilby changed when I read here a recent possible “reason for some staffs dislike of Mr Wilby’s management style.”

    If we look to removing “less able staff”, we are making some assumptions. Someone has to be less able than someone else in everything. It is a remarkable person who is bad at everything and teaching is a profession requiring a wider range of skills than most.

    It is a widespread cliché that the profession is riddled with “bad teachers”. I doubt that. It’s usually scapegoating. Often, those labelled as “bad” are not yes-people, teachers who have minds of their own; and we need such people to teach our children.

    Asking people to reapply for their jobs is often a scam for getting rid of people that some other people do not like. That may include those who stand up for their employment rights, for instance, who may be called troublemakers. I stress I am NOT speaking about 5 Islands. The last time I saw the new school it was a building site. But I am not NOT talking about it.

    If there are bad teachers in a school, how was it they were qualified? It is not easy to obtain a teaching qualification. And how was it they were appointed? Teaching is not an easy job. All teachers need support at some point.

    “Restructuring staff pay” is a fancy word for cuts.

  14. Tim October 11, 2012 at 12:56 pm

    No one seems disturbed by the porno issue, I find this the most disturbing, and also, was another teacher not suspended?

    • IanT October 11, 2012 at 9:16 pm

      The so-called ‘porno’ issue has already been shown to be unfounded.

      • Nick F October 12, 2012 at 12:51 pm

        No it hasn’t. I haven’t heard anything official regarding the origin of the images, whether the Head was in school at the time they were accessed and whether the security software on his Hi-Tec laptop was breachable. Until these questions are answered, we cannot simply rely on his wifes protestations of innocence.

  15. mainlander October 10, 2012 at 9:05 pm

    I work in Education on the Mainland. Since when have partners of employees ever thought it was any of their business to get involved publically in a work based issued relating to their spouse?? Or were they employed as well?

  16. Todd Stevens October 10, 2012 at 7:54 pm

    The way things stand the school is not allowed to change in a way because clearly- “somone” -at the council doesnt want change-even for the better. They just want control of the school by keeping a hold on the purse strings- this is not good for the school or its possible avdancement. and wilby just got in the way of this control.

  17. Samual Vimes October 10, 2012 at 7:30 pm

    The school is a Church school regardless of how many people attend church, get over it.

    The sooner the school gains academy status the better.
    The reason being that the school currently gets an annual budget from the DFE, via the council; do you know how much that budget is?, do you have access to the school accounts that show the amount of money coming in offset against running costs.
    The school budget is controlled by the council

    Should the school become an academy then a detail analysis of the schools accounts for the last five years must be undertaken.
    Obviously ‘Mr Wilby’ had nothing to hide in this respect or he would not have been investigating the benefits of academy status, however other party’s might not have been so happy to see the school accounts being looked at in such close detail.

    Another advantage of academy status is the head could have asked teaching staff to reapply for their jobs and this would have been an excellent way of removing some of the less able staff from post, this might have been a reason for some staffs dislike of Mr Wilby’s management style.
    It would also have allowed Mr Wilby to cut rising costs against a fixed income by restructuring staff pay, off island school bases and Mundersley, again all contentious issues that WILL need to be addressed whoever is head master.

    At the end of the day the school is there to serve the pupils not the staff or the council

  18. Jon October 10, 2012 at 12:44 pm

    Katie F, it’s quite clear – Mrs Wilby explained this payment in her interview. The “special payment” was an honorarium paid to the Chair of Governors after he gave up his entire summer working flat out to get the new school site up and running.

    It’s perfectly normal and would have gone through various committees and finance checks. Again, Mrs Wilby says they have all the paper work showing who signed it off etc. The council would have known all about it, which is why it is so sinister that they then cited it in their complaint against Bryce.

    Likewise, the Council cited various lump sums as “evidence” of financial impropriety which Mrs Wilby explained away with ease. One sum for example was for an overnight stay on Bryher that the Governors bought the Wilbys as a PRESENT. Another payment was for a PTA party, again, signed off by various finance committees.

    Clear? If not, it will be soon.

  19. Knacker of the Yard October 10, 2012 at 10:47 am

    What is the Church of England doing defending someone who states under religion in his census return
    he is a Jedau Knight?
    Why did the CoE contact the Department for Education, demanding that they send in a failing school
    Where is their mandate? Out of over 500 parents with children at the school, only 3 attend St Mary’s
    church -and one of those is a Catholic!
    I have no choice where I send my child to school. The CoE need to wind their neck in before the majority of parents
    get to know about their Five Islands School land grab plans for an academy.

    • IanT October 10, 2012 at 4:01 pm

      Perhaps Mr Wilby was not prepared to divulge his religion and made his entry as a form of protest. I get frustrated by such questions and will, in answer to that particular question, just state ‘Christian’ though this may not, of course, in these computerised days, satisfy ‘the system’. I also object to questions about race or ethnicity. What difference does it make what race, colour or ‘ethnic background’ we have? We are all equal members of the human race.

    • IanT October 10, 2012 at 7:36 pm

      Those parent numbers are a bit suspect. At my calculation that must equate to three or more parents per child..! I know it’s a funny old world but really..??

  20. Todd Stevens October 9, 2012 at 8:03 pm

    The D of E should be able tol trace right back to who has been slinging all this mud that cant stick. Then, hopefully, as is right and proper, the thrower shouldl get the boot.

  21. Katie F October 9, 2012 at 1:38 pm

    Could someone shed some light on the ‘special payment’ made to the chair of governors? Andy/another ed. – do you know anything about this?

  22. John Hicks October 8, 2012 at 11:14 pm

    My God! this pantomime just gets worse. How the hell can the Councillors sleep soundly at night knowing what is obviously going on in their names. I can’t even understand how the Cornish councillors can allow this to happen. This stinks to high heaven and for anyone to say that it doesn’t is totally deluded. I don’t know Brice Wilby but I reckon he is going to be a very rich man in the not too distant future. He should certainly take a recorder in with himat the very least, but he should demand a witness as I can see this whole disgraceful episode being reported quite differently to how it will unfold in reality.

  23. John Banfield October 8, 2012 at 10:14 pm

    If you are intent on stitching someone up you don’t want any witnesses, this farce goes from strength to strength. The DFE need to take complete control of the situation.

  24. Robin October 8, 2012 at 9:16 pm

    Surely a neutral person is one agreed by both parties, not one picked by one side in a dispute?

  25. Todd Stevens October 8, 2012 at 8:14 pm

    Keep weaving your sticky little web Gollum, eventually you will entrap yourself in it- “my precious”.

    How many more times is Mike Hicks going to say I didnt know; I wasnt told; Im unaware etc etc etc. Its becoming tiresome! – YOU ARE THE CHAIRMAN ITS TIME YOU DEMANDED TO KNOW EVERYTHING. but first you have to wake up and smell the coffee.

  26. Cassandra October 8, 2012 at 2:50 pm

    I would have thought Mr. Wilby is quite within his rights to take his own counsel to the meeting with him. In which case I would have thought a solicitor along with an accountant to deal with the questions on the financial side and, if the download issue is to be discussed, a computer expert as well.

  27. Lawrence Upton October 8, 2012 at 1:18 pm

    It is not clear who “they” who do not have sway; but on neutrality I would have thought that Mr Wilby could demand neutral ground.

    And then there is the word “appropriate”. Not appropriate in what context, under what regulations… why?

    If it were me I would take a recording device

  28. Stavropol October 8, 2012 at 1:11 pm

    ‘The governerers and their client the Council, don’t think that would be appropriate’ but the chairman knows nothing about this? I feel for the chairman, he is obviously unable to wrestle enough control back from the officers, their power is entrenched.

  29. Samuel Vimes October 8, 2012 at 12:59 pm

    So the auditors won’t allow an independent witness to be present, even if that witness is the Diocese Director of Education and the school is a church school.
    As far as I can see this has been done for two reasons…
    1. The ios council who have employed the auditors (at tax payers expense) have defined the parameters of the investigation and the auditors are sticking strictly to what they have BEEN ASKED to do, in other words the council have said they don’t want any independent witnesses present….or
    2. The auditors have something to hide.

    The auditors then go on to say in an email…. “that that they will not be discussing process, actions of the Isles of Scilly Council, its Officers, Members or those of the school’s governing body within the meeting.”……Why not?
    I would have thought a discussion of the process would be a legal requirement?

    All in all I no longer have any faith in the Cornwall council auditors report and will put my trust in the DFE’s investigation instead as they are completely independent from the islands and don’t have a partisan interest either way.
    All the while Cornwall are being paid by the ios council, it’s in Cornwall’s interest to keep the cash cow happy. I’m not saying this is the case but it does make you wonder.

    The Council Chairman Mike Hicks said he wasn’t aware of the auditors refusal to allow the attendance of Diocese Director of Education….. why not?
    Mike, these people are carrying out an audit on behalf of the ios council of which you are chairman, ultimately the auditors are carrying out the investigation on your behalf, but as ever you don’t know anything, or are being deliberately kept in the dark.

    If I was Bryce I would be taking a union rep and a tape recorder with me.