Donaldson’s school needs ‘urgent’ improvements

The national school for deaf children is in crisis after government ministers called for urgent improvements. Picture: TSPL
The national school for deaf children is in crisis after government ministers called for urgent improvements. Picture: TSPL
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INSPECTORS have called for a series of “urgent” improvements to be made at the scandal-hit national deaf school.

A joint report published today by Education Scotland and the Care Inspectorate said Donaldson’s School in Linlithgow had made “insufficient progress” since previous inspections.

Donaldson's School for the deaf in Linlithgow. Picture: TSPL

Donaldson's School for the deaf in Linlithgow. Picture: TSPL

Last month the school was served with an improvement notice by the Scottish Government and given seven days to make immediate changes to the way the establishment is run.

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Police Scotland were also said to be assessing allegations related to serious sexual offences and how staff at the school responded to them. It is understood that some of the allegations are historical in nature.

Education Scotland said the school needed to take “urgent action” to review and improve how it manages the challenging behaviour of some children and young people.

The report states: “The school needs to implement, as a matter of urgency, effective and robust child protection procedures and approaches to ensure that all staff are aware of their responsibility in keeping children safe. The school must ensure that correct procedures for reporting and investigating incidents are put in place immediately. They must also ensure that

subsequent action is taken as a result of investigations of incidents and that pupils and staff are supported appropriately.”

Inspectors also found that children are not “sufficiently involved” in making decision about the school and do not have enough opportunities to raise concerns.

They said there was poor supervision of pupils and an “unacceptably high” number of incidents of challenging behaviour.

And they called for the school to immediately develop and implement a plan to address the health and wellbeing needs of children, helping them understand “self-worth and respect for others, sexual health and relationships, and the impact of risk-taking behaviour”.

The Scottish Government said improvements would be implemented under a new convener of the school’s board of governors.

Minister for Learning Alasdair Allan said: “Securing the wellbeing and safety of the pupils has been our priority which is why I took immediate steps to ensure this following the concerns raised last month. A team of inspectors has been at the school since the notice was served, to work with the school to develop plans for improvements and they will remain in the school until Christmas.

“I welcome the swift multi-agency response which has included Education Scotland and Care Inspectorate inspectors meeting with the board of governors, the parents of pupils, as well as liaison with Police Scotland.

“It is essential that Education Scotland and the Care Inspectorate continue to work with the school and partners to ensure plans are taken forward and improvements are made. We expect progress to be made quickly and will continue to monitor this closely.”

The new convener of the board of governors, John Anderson, said: “Donaldson’s School is facing a very challenging time. The current review of the school’s management has been instigated by the school, when the new principal felt that appropriate procedures were not being followed and issues needed to be addressed.

“We have now the Scottish Government’s go ahead to implement our action plan going forward and continue to work with Scottish Government, Police Scotland and all other appropriate agencies. We have been overwhelmed by the support shown to us by other agencies. Priority is the safety and wellbeing of the children and young people in our care.”

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