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Crieff High: Council U-turn over probe at under-fire school

Crieff High School Anna De Garis
The school's culture will be investigated.

An independent manager will lead a probe into sexual assault claims at Crieff High after the council appointed someone who had been deputy head at the school until just last year.

Perth and Kinross Council announced an investigation into the school’s culture after an open letter alleged racism, sexual assault and homophobic bullying were “rife” at the school.

The council initially said the probe would be led by David Macluskey, now service manager for secondary education at the local authority.

But parents raised questions about Mr Macluskey’s role, pointing out he was a deputy headteacher at Crieff High School until 2021. Macluskey’s wife is also employed at the school in a senior role.

The investigation was launched after an open letter by 16-year-old pupil Anna De Garis revealed the results of pupil survey she conducted about incidents of sexual assault, racism and the use of homophobic slurs.

Conflict of interest

The Crieff High pupil’s letter refers to incidents over the last four years, and for the majority of this time, Macluskey was a senior manager at the school.

Following concerns of a conflict of interest, the council has now said a new service manager will be appointed to lead the review process.

Anna’s mum Kristie De Garis welcomed the change, emphasising the need for transparency so pupils could have confidence in the probe.

Crieff High headteacher John Donnelly.

A Perth and Kinross Council spokesman said that while Macluskey would normally have led the review, it had been agreed another senior manager would take over in these circumstances.

“The investigation of the issues raised by Anna in her open letter has been commissioned through a school review process to ensure the culture, policies and processes in place within Crieff High School meet the high standards we demand from our schools,” he said.

“It will identify where improvements can be made and whether any learning from this process can be taken across other schools.”

Crieff High School.

He added: “As the senior officer with overall strategic responsibility for secondary education, it is Mr Macluskey’s role to lead any review in any school within Perth and Kinross, without fear or favour.

“However, to ensure all children, young people, parents, carers and staff have full confidence in the investigation and its findings, it has been agreed that another service manager leads the review in his stead and we will therefore appoint a new lead.”

The new head of the investigation will work with senior officers from the council’s education and equalities teams will plan and oversee the programme.

Crieff High pupil Anna De Garis.

A peer officer from another local authority has also been commissioned to work with the review team, which consists of quality improvement officers, equalities officers and partner agencies.

“Head of education and learning, Sharon Johnston, has overall responsibility for the final report and any recommendations,” the spokesman said.

“Another officer will consider a formal complaint made by a parent separately.”

Crieff High pupil who shared sex assault claims is left ‘sobbing’ by headteacher

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