Scilly Councillor Calls For Release Of School Reports

Cllr Gordon Bilsborough

Cllr Gordon Bilsborough

A St Mary’s councillor is alleging that elected members are being kept in the dark over issues surrounding the governance of the Five Islands School.

Gordon Bilsborough wants councillors to be allowed to read correspondence between the Department for Education and the Town Hall because it outlines the government’s findings that the Council has broken the law.

Council spokesperson George Pearson says interim Chief Executive Barry Keel received a private letter from the DfE about the events that took place last year.

George says the Council is still considering the detail of the letter and a response will be sent shortly providing an update on progress and actions taken to date.

Yesterday Council Chairman Amanda Martin confirmed she had not been shown the letter from Michael Gove’s office either.

Cllr Bilsborough says there needs to be a full enquiry into what went wrong and that needs to be conducted by elected members and not Council officers.

Gordon says councillors have a right to know how the Authority has breached the rules and he’s concerned that the members are not being given the facts, blaming the officers, “who control the information.”

He wants the whole community to see the DfE letter as well as the report by Cornwall Council auditors into the former head’s suspension.

There are so many rumours and bad feeling around this issue, says Gordon, that the public have become disillusioned.

The Council’s Press Officer says the recent DfE letter and the Cornwall Council audit report contain personal information relating to individuals and third parties and are subject to the Data Protection Act, so cannot legally be published.

A report will be brought to members in the future.

Former head teacher Bryce Wilby blocked publication of the Cornwall auditors report.

He agrees that it would be an offence to use or distribute it under the Data Protection Act. But he claims parts of it are being spread “maliciously” around the community.

He has welcomed the DfE finding that the Council and some of the Governing Body have acted illegally. Bryce says that makes it easier to continue preparations for taking legal action against them.

Most of the education law breaches concern procedures for meetings and the process of the former head’s suspension.

Some governors should have been kept out of discussions so they were free to assess an appeal if there had been one.

Mr Wilby wasn’t told why he had been suspended or offered an early chance to respond to allegations, says the letter from Michael Gove, and he should have been.

And governors who were school staff should have left meetings when Bryce was discussed.

Council staff working for the two Council directors who attended the meetings should also have declared an interest.

Mr Gove found that the investigation was initiated by the Council and, because of its serious nature, he would have expected them to work with the school and to bring in outside expertise.

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