Report reveals fresh allegations at Adam Smith

13th April 2012 at 01:00
Now the college faces investigation of alleged misuse of funds by senior staff

The Scottish Funding Council has called for further investigations to be carried out at Adam Smith College, this time into allegations that senior staff have misused funds.

The move follows the resignation last month of the Fife college's principal, Craig Thomson, the day before a damning report into the college's governance was delivered by the funding council.

The investigations should also look into "apparent attempts to coerce staff to manipulate or falsify staff timesheets on projects" and the "apparent use of college staff time and resources for personal purposes", said an action plan published jointly by the Scottish Funding Council (SFC) and Adam Smith College last week.

The original investigation, ordered by the education secretary, Michael Russell, examined the governance and management of the college after allegations of bullying and harassment by senior members of the management team were raised earlier this year. Three executive directors of the college, including Dr Thomson's wife Linda, are currently on leave.

Mark Batho, chief executive of the SFC, said the overall objective of the review had been to provide an independent assessment of "the allegations regarding the treatment of staff, the processes and procedures for dealing with such complaints and the governance oversight of these matters".

The action plan calls for further investigations into instances of potential bullying and intimidating behaviour by senior staff "as a matter or some urgency" to identify whether disciplinary action may be necessary.

"Given the depth of feeling around the lack of confidence in internal processes, we believe the college will need to refer these matters to an independent and external team with no prior involvement with the college or this review," it adds.

Issues around transparency and the accountability of staff were also highlighted, and the college was urged to increase opportunities for staff and students to voice their concerns and opinions.

The college board should develop a strategy for reinforcing the college's values; its procedures for monitoring the institution's culture and well- being should be reviewed; and a specific board committee for HR and staffing issues should be created, the plan says.

The college board said it fully accepted the report's findings and outlined the measures it would take in response to each of the 26 recommendations. It has promised to report on a monthly basis to the SFC.

Mark Goldsmith, board chairman, said the review distilled the views of staff and students and the advice of the SFC's experts into a "blueprint for reform".

The college has agreed to further investigations, and where evidence is sufficiently strong, these may include investigations into specific individuals.

It also plans to revise its process for dealing with public interest disclosures by July 2012, after it was identified as a main area of concern. Measures will also be taken to improve the college's HR systems and performance management processes.

julia.belgutay@tess.co.uk

TIMELINE

January: A website is launched, raising allegations of bullying and mismanagement against the principal and senior management team.

27 January: The chairman of the college's board, Graham Johnstone, steps down.

23 February: Mark Goldsmith announced as new chairman.

28 February: Board asks for independent Scottish Funding Council review; principal Craig Thomson steps aside.

6 March: SFC review team arrives.

21 March: Dr Thomson is suspended.

26 March: Dr Thomson resigns.

27 March: SFC reports findings to the board and Michael Russell.

4 April: SFC and the college publish an action plan.

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