writes Derren Hayes
An independent inquiry has been set up into the abuse of children with emotional and behavioural difficulties at the Kerelaw school in Ayreshire.
The school was closed in January 2005 after allegations emerged of the inappropriate use of physical restraints by some staff.
A subsequent investigation by Glasgow Council concluded there was a longstanding failure within the school to provide safe, effective and appropriate care and that some young people had been subject to sexual, physical and emotional abuse.
In June 2007, the council drew up an action plan for addressing the failures identified in its investigation. But after intervention by the minister for children and early years Adam Ingram, the council and the Scottish Executive have decided to set up a joint independent inquiry into the events at Kerelaw.
The inquiry, which is to be chaired by retired civil servant Eddie Frizzell, is to review the circumstances that led to the abuse, examine the council’s stewardship of the school, and make recommendations on how to prevent any similar cases of occurring again.
Ingram said: “The young people who attended Kerelaw were among the most vulnerable in society. These young people were let down. We owe it to those who have suffered abuse to examine, fully and independently, what insights we can secure from Kerelaw.”
It is hoped that former staff and pupils, inspectorates and stakeholders will take part in the inquiry, which is yet to set a timescale for its work.
Kerelaw provided care and secondary education in its open school and four residential units for up to 50 young people. It employed 23 staff, some of whom are pursuing unfair dismissal claims against the council.
Glasgow Council leader Stephen Purcell said the inquiry offered “an opportunity to gain a deeper insight” into the circumstances around Kerelaw.
“An inquiry securing the participation of former pupils, staff, the inspectorates and stakeholders will assist in identifying any further measures to help better protect the children of Glasgow and Scotland,” he added.