The Government regrets the misleading and unfortunate statement issued today by NASUWT
The Government also regrets the attempt by NASUWT to politicise this matter, which is one which requires sensitivity given the subject it relates to.
By way of background, the Government can confirm that NASUWT wrote to the Chief Secretary on 23 March 2022. In his response, the Chief Secretary confirmed that the Government had accepted in full the findings and recommendations made in the report of Gillian Guzman QC. The Chief Secretary set out the steps which had already been taken as a result of the findings and recommendations in Ms Guzman’s report. In addition, the Chief Secretary informed NASUWT that the Government had agreed to undertake an internal investigation into the handling of the incident by the senior management at the Department of Education.
The Chief Secretary went on to state that it would be inappropriate for him to take any decision on any disciplinary matter until that internal investigation is concluded. The Chief Secretary nevertheless noted in his letter to NASUWT that Ms Guzman’s report stated that “[t]he Board fully accepts that everyone in management at both the Department of Education and Westside School acted in good faith and that at no stage was there any purposeful act or omission.”’
NASUWT wrote again to the Chief Secretary on 29 March 2022. It has issued its press statement without even waiting for the Chief Secretary to respond.
The Chief Secretary has now responded to the letter from NASUWT.
In his reply, the Chief Secretary has informed NASUWT that Ms Guzman’s report made no recommendation about any disciplinary measures to be taken against any staff member of the Department of Education despite having the opportunity of doing so and that it is the Report itself that gives rise to the need to investigate whether any disciplinary action ought to be taken.
The Chief Secretary expresses surprise that NASUWT, as a trade union, did not consider that that is the right way to proceed before any decision concerning disciplinary measures is taken.
Unlike the view that NASUWT appear to have taken, neither the Chief Secretary nor the Government have pre-determined nor pre-judged the outcome of the internal investigation. That investigation is ongoing and must be completed before any decision is taken on whether or not a disciplinary process should be initiated.
The Government notes that NASUWT are now seeking to polticise this matter by urging the GSD and Together Gibraltar to join NASUWT in calling for a public inquiry into this matter. TheGovernment does not consider that it is either necessary or appropriate to have a public inquiry on this. The matter has been the subject of a full independent investigation leading to Ms Guzman’s report and there is now an internal investigation into what further action, if any, ought to be taken as a result of the findings in that report.
Finally, the Government totally condemns as entirely shameful and unsubstantiated the insinuation by NASUWT in its press statement that there is an institutionalised culture in Education and by some in senior management to not act professionally, responsibly, ethically and always in the interests of students. Nothing could be further from the truth. The work of the Government in Education and all professionals at the Department of Education has constantly demonstrated, not least during the difficult and challenging times of a pandemic, how committed all professionals in the Department are to the welfare of pupils in Gibraltar, just like the overwhelming majority of teachers. It nonetheless does NASUWT no credit to make such wild and demonstrably false accusations.