Rossie School closure rumours denied

THE HEAD of Rossie School has moved to dispel rumours that the secure unit is facing an uncertain future.

Richard Murray, the school’s chief executive, said categorically that there is no intention of closing the school, which provides 30 beds for young offenders.

The school is run by a trust as an independent, self-contained unit which employs a staff of around 130 people.

The oldest institution of its kind in Scotland, places at Rossie are bought by the Scottish Government and local authorities as and when required for children and young people from across the country.

Mr Murray pointed out that the school had just opened a new accommodation block in 2009 at a “substantial cost” and that the unit had received positive reports from HMIe.

He said: “We have had a very favourable inspection reports and are considered an exemplar in the Curriculum for Excellence by Her Majesty’s Inspector of Education.

“We have been providing a service to the young people of Scotland since 1857 and have every expectation of continuing to do so.”

For the first time in its history, however, Rossie will have to submit a tender in the future for a framework contract for both local authorities and the Scottish Government to use in securing places at the facility.

Mr Murray added: “If we are unsuccessful in that tender we may have to rationalise, like any other business.

“Obviously we are in a difficult economic climate at the moment, and social services, local councils and government departments have all been subject to significant cuts in their budgets.

“They are our customers and we can expect that they may expect us to make savings. We will go through appropriate routes and consultation processes to do that if and when that arises.

“Certainly redundancies would not be something we would consider as a first option.”

A Scottish Government spokesman was unable to say when the tendering process would begin but said the matter has been discussed “extensively”.

He said: “The future provision of secure care at a national level has been the subject of extensive discussions within a steering group established to bring together buyers and providers of secure accommodation.

“All providers of secure care are aware that a competitive tender to put in place a framework contract for local authorities and the Scottish Government to use in purchasing secure places will be advertised very soon.

“It is therefore simply not appropriate for the Scottish Government to speculate on the future of Rossie or any other provider of secure care.”