Council apology is on the cards for ‘Mrs C’

GALASHIELS - MARCH  27:'Primary head teacher found dead'Irene Hogg'':: Glenn Rodger, Director of Education & Lifelong Learning is interviewed by ITVNews outside Primary School in Galashiels'A head teacher at a primary school in the Scottish Borders has been missing since the weekend.'Irene Hogg, 54, worked at Glendinning Primary in Galashiels and lived in Bowden near Newtown St Boswells. She was last seen on Sunday evening. ''(photo by Rob Gray)
GALASHIELS - MARCH 27:'Primary head teacher found dead'Irene Hogg'':: Glenn Rodger, Director of Education & Lifelong Learning is interviewed by ITVNews outside Primary School in Galashiels'A head teacher at a primary school in the Scottish Borders has been missing since the weekend.'Irene Hogg, 54, worked at Glendinning Primary in Galashiels and lived in Bowden near Newtown St Boswells. She was last seen on Sunday evening. ''(photo by Rob Gray)

GLENN Rodger has been advised to apologise for Scottish Borders Council’s handling of a parent’s complaint at a Borders school.

A report by the Scottish Public Services Ombudsman Jim Martin recommended the director of education and lifelong learning say sorry for the manner in which his department dealt with a mother’s grievances about a deputy headteacher at her son’s unnamed school.

While Mr Martin did not accept the accusation from the parent – named Mrs C by the ombudsman – that the investigation was unfair, he did have concerns with the conduct and timing of SBC’s enquiries.

Mr Martin said: “Mrs C complained that, when she complained about her son’s deputy head teacher, the council’s education department failed to conduct a fair investigation or to handle the complaint within a reasonable time.

“She also said that they did not give her enough information about the outcome of their investigation into her complaint.

“From our enquiries it became apparent that a better approach to investigating Mrs C’s complaint would have resulted in a more timely response.

“While we were concerned about the council’s handling of Mrs C’s complaint, we did not find any evidence to support her claim that the conduct of the investigation was unfair.”

Mr Martin added: “We recommended that the director of education and lifelong learning issue an apology to Mrs C for the way her complaint was handled and for the delay in response.

“We also recommended that when, for clear and justifiable reasons, the council are unable to issue a decision on a complaint within the timescale in their complaints handling procedures, they should, in agreement with the complainant, set revised limits on any extended timeline for bringing the investigation to conclusion.

“This should be made within the complaints procedure.”

A spokeswoman for the ombudsman refused to give out details of the complainant, school or depute headteacher, as did SBC.

An SBC spokesperson said: “We note the findings and recommendations from SPSO and confirm we will be taking appropriate action.”

But Borders Party councillor Sandy Aitchison believes any complaints surrounding a teacher’s conduct in future have to be dealt with immediately.

The former college lecturer added: “School days are difficult enough for some children and when a parent is sufficiently interested and concerned it is important that that interest and concern is duplicated by administrative staff managing schools.

“For a pupil it is always difficult to go to a school when he/she knows that a complaint has been made so speed to settle the concern is important both for the pupil and for the teacher about whom the complaint is made.”

Meanwhile, Mr Rodger, along with fellow directors Andrew Lowe (social work) and Tracey Logan (resources), will take over as interim chief executive of SBC in the coming months as the authority searches for a permanent replacement for David Hume, who retired earlier this month.

Discussions on the process to replace Mr Hume, 58, will take place at a full council meeting this morning (Thursday).