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NASUWT statement lacks objectivity & unfairly prejudges conclusions – 242/2022

By April 6, 2022 No Comments

Her Majesty’s Government of Gibraltar considers that the further statement from NASUWT illustrates that those responsible for the press statements and correspondence in question have lost all objectivity.

The NASUWT appears to be motivated only by the desire to pursue a vicious attack on senior officials in the Department of Education.

Moreover, the most recent statement reflects no regard whatsoever by the teachers’ union for the well-being of the individuals involved at every level of this matter, in particular the pupil in question, who is now an adult.

Additionally the position of the NASUWT entirely ignores due process and the need to observe the principles of natural justice in the establishment of whether there is any basis on which to take any further action in this case against any senior official or any other person.

Remarkably the NASUWT is taking a line which no union should ever pursue or be associated with, casting itself almost in the guise of grand inquisitor, namely suggesting that disciplinary proceedings should be commenced against individuals without due regard to the procedures required to be followed before such proceedings would be commenced against any other employee.

The reality is that this is a complex case, with sensitive facts and background that has to be approached with care and not bluster.

The fact that the RGP, in full possession of all facts and the Guzman Report, have not prosecuted any person or persons, should also serve to highlight that the facts are not as black and white as the NASUWT makes out, a hugely important fact that NASUWT have chosen to ignore.

The NASUWT position, however, seems to have prejudged matters entirely, without all the relevant information and without regard to all the circumstances of the case in question.

In fact, since June 2019 the Department of Education has actively engaged in a process of reviewing its policies and practices as a direct response to its management of this particular case and the complexities involved, and recognised that there were a number of improvements which could immediately be made. The review process has been informed by the Department of Education’s interactions with the Care Agency, the RGP and the Government Legal Office.

The training, policies and procedures which were implemented and/or revised, have already been used to inform the management and resolution of subsequent allegations which have been brought to the attention of the Department of Education.

The multi-agency strategic meetings and the RGP’s investigation provided an opportunity for the Department of Education to address deficits that had been identified, and to scrutinise their procedures.

The Department of Education acknowledges the Guzman report which was released to it in August 2021, and has ensured that the recommendations outlined in the report have been looked at very carefully and implemented.

In fact, at the point at which the Guzman report was made available to the Department, many of the recommendations on the report had already been addressed, or were in the process of being addressed by the Department of Education.

Furthermore, in direct response to the Guzman report, a working group was convened by the Human Resources Department. This working group, which includes representatives from the Department of Education, the Care Agency, GLO and HRD, has provided direct multi-agency input into a renewed review of Department of Education policies and procedures in specific regard to professional conduct and the management of allegations against staff.

Child Protection matters are a fundamental priority for the Government, for the Department of Education, for its senior leaders and staff in schools. Indeed, staff in our schools work tirelessly to protect the children in our schools and have mitigated risk before, after, and during COVID. Consultation with staff in schools and other Child Protection agencies are a regular and daily occurrence, with Child Protection protocols and procedures being used in our schools with consistency. The Safeguarding training delivered by the sub-committee for training, which reports to the Child Protection Committee Chair, is robust, and Safeguarding training is rolled out to Department of Education staff continuously across all sectors.

In light of all of these facts and matters, Her Majesty’s Government of Gibraltar, and the Chief Secretary’s office in particular, will continue to pursue the internal review process in which it is engaged and will not permit that due process and the key principles of natural justice should be ignored and ridden roughshod over by a supposedly representative organisation.