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Last Updated: Friday, 15 October, 2004, 14:18 GMT 15:18 UK
Action plan for troubled Kerelaw
Kerelaw School
Kerelaw School has been the focus of bad publicity
School inspectors have detailed the improvements they say are needed at a controversial centre for some of Scotland's most vulnerable teenagers.

Their report on Kerelaw in Ayrshire was published on Friday, the day Glasgow Council confirmed it would be closing part of the school by March next year.

The authority also announced it would stop running the attached secure unit.

Care Commission officers and HMIe recognised positive features at Kerelaw but said they saw no key strengths.

The open school and secure unit have been the subject of bad publicity in recent months, with the police becoming involved after one Care Commission report.

Kerelaw caters for youngsters from all over Scotland with significant social, emotional, or behavioural difficulties.

The welfare of the young people in our care is the priority
Charlie Gordon
Glasgow City Council leader
Its secure unit provides accommodation for 24 children and the open school can provide facilities for 50 others.

The inspectors' 15 recommendations referred to both facilities at the Stevenson site, although the open school is now set for closure.

They said that communication between senior management and staff needed to be improved and a proper system whereby pupils could complain in confidence should be established.

The inspectors have now asked the school and the council to:

  • Prepare an action plan indicating how they will address the main findings of the report

  • Share the plan with parents and carers

  • Forward the plan to the Care Commission and HMI Integrated Inspection Unit

  • Engage with inspectors to monitor progress.

The council's decision to close the open school and withdraw from managing the secure unit was made by members of the policy resources committee.

Councillor Charlie Gordon, council leader, said: "The welfare of the young people in our care is the priority.

"It was the council that asked the Care Commission and HMIe to carry out an independent inspection at Kerelaw School.

"The purpose of our meeting was to respond decisively and immediately to the inspection report. We have decided to close the open school by the end of March 2005."

Staff suspensions

He said the individual requirements of the 16 young people currently attending the school would be looked at closely and the most appropriate placements would be made as a "matter of urgency".

The council plans to discuss the decision with the 153 staff and other groups "in due course".

Councillor Gordon said: "It is my understanding that the executive will be making an announcement later today about the longer-term future of the Kerelaw Secure Unit.

"The council is seeking an alternative provider for the secure unit at Kerelaw.

"In the meantime we have assured the executive that the council will maintain its existing responsibilities for that facility."

Councillor Gordon said he wanted to assure everyone concerned that the authority would work closely with the Care Commission over the next few months.

Twenty three staff have either been suspended or transferred following the recent controversy.

There is absolutely no reason for the city council to wash its hands of Kerelaw in this way.
Ronnie Stevenson
Unison

It has also emerged that a 55-year-old man has been reported to the procurator fiscal in Kilmarnock.

But public sector union Unison has called for Kerelaw to stay open and for its management to be improved.

Ronnie Stevenson, the union's social work convener for Glasgow, said: "There is absolutely no reason for the city council to wash its hands of Kerelaw in this way.

"All the evidence suggests that we will need more special placements centres, especially secure units, to place children who will benefit from that care.

"Both facilities were full prior to the bar on placing pupils there.

"Kerelaw has been poorly managed and there has been an absence of adequate training, supervision and support, but the alternative of placing vulnerable young people in privately-run accommodation will be both more expensive and more bureaucratic."

The Scottish Executive recently announced that it was to extend the school to provide more secure places for teenagers in trouble with the law.


SEE ALSO:
Closure plan for troubled Kerelaw
13 Oct 04  |  Scotland
Inquiry at school for vulnerable
18 Jun 04  |  Scotland
Kerelaw 'has not learned lessons'
28 Apr 04  |  Scotland
Measures to tackle young offenders
08 Jan 04  |  Scotland


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