My mum, a staunch unionist, always taught me about social responsibility. She would always call out injustice wherever she saw it. She inspired me to do the same.  This ongoing discussion will not help the college, but if it holds an organisation to account then it’s a really important conversation to have. I can’t turn a blind eye to this (I mean I seriously wish that I could). . . the cost to our industry is too high.

Over the past couple of years lots of people’s eyes have been opened to the fact that certain people in the public eye are culpable of gaslighting. I did a poll the other day on twitter asking people if they felt that gaslighting had increased since we’ve had a PM that literally does nothing else.  A stark percentage believed that his lack of integrity had trickled down through the cracks of society.

For those that aren’t sure what gaslighting means, to gaslight is to make people question their own reality. So when Johnson says one thing and then denies it in the next interview, we’re all left wondering if we’d imagined the first statement.

In my first blog about all of the Trinity debacle I was clear that I felt that their response to our initial complaint was rather. . . well. . . gaslit. They actually didn’t address any of our concerns at all, simply telling me that the report was the report and we just had to suck it up really. To be clear they didn’t write those exact words. . . but that was definitely my takeaway. 

I find gaslighting fascinating – take even their initial response, all of my senior faculty had read that report, and we all had input on the corrections, we had all come to the same conclusion that our main assessor’s input was missing, yet when faced with a corporate response taking zero accountability, you instinctively have to take a step back and question your own reality. The massive difference here though is that my faculty, the students. . . a LOT of people had heard the same things at the same time. This wasn’t one person’s word against another. 

Anyway – today they’ve issued a statement designed to shut down the unofficial social media campaign that would have the potential to damage their reputation. . . and they’ve disappointingly gone for gaslighting one more time.

So let’s just deal with facts shall we . . . here goes

1) Trinity failing to process our pre-validation assessment within a reasonable time frame did massively contribute to our closing. We’ve been clear all along that they weren’t solely responsible. It’s no secret that we had announced last year that we were closing. . .so clearly our position was always precarious this year. Suddenly having access to the potential of student funding though was a game changer for us and would have allowed us to be sustainable and indeed viable for the foreseeable future. So both of those facts can just sit side by side comfortably.

2) Even in their statement they’ve got their facts wrong. . . the company that has named itself as a regulated awarding organisation are now stating that they only watched one in person show. They came to 2. . . maybe it was just a typo eh, but you’d expect a bit more rigour in a statement defending their integrity*

*UPDATED to add that they’ve now issued a correction notice about this, but when I say a correction notice, it’s actually not, they just now say that they watched 2 shows, they’ve just tried to make it all casual and normal.

2) They say that their work is scrutinised, they spend a long time telling us about their great reputation. It was a 9 page report and we had 6 pages of corrections. Make your own conclusion.

3) We would have been OK with the decision to pause the validation process IF that decision was based on facts taken from the main assessor. The report focussed on dance, it didn’t mention our singing or acting at all, other than in the show report for Hair, which states that we had “demonstrated standards of singing, acting and dance required by the diploma”

4) They state that our report had been ‘unavoidably delayed’ – which is true as I had received our original recommendations back in March, yet the report (with different recommendations) was presented in July.

5) They state that they’re working within the “published guidelines”. Firstly I’d love to see those as we haven’t been able to find them anywhere, but also every college is so different. eg they might have made a recommendation that we had a new building, in which case it would have taken us years to be validated, so validation is a piece of string issue. The difference here is that we were TOLD by the assessors on the day that we could be optimistic to be validated by July. Our main assessor had worked for Trinity for 17 years as their main assessor, he wasn’t some rookie prone to error. In my meeting with them, they chastised this assessor for speaking out of turn, noting it as a point of learning. You conclude whatever you like, as we are not able to contact our main assessor. He’s not able to speak to us. We did reach out to him, only to be told that he no longer worked for the organisation and therefore couldn’t comment. 

6) They’ve refuted in the “strongest terms possible” our claims about them falsifying parts of that report. Who would be so dumb to suggest that without tangible proof? Not us, though interesting that they’ve now popped out in the public domain that they’ve watched a “sample” of online shows. 

7) Finally this statement “Further, we wish to make clear that we will not tolerate any personal attacks being made against Trinity’s staff and assessors and any questioning of their integrity in their professional work.” Now that’s very clever isn’t it? That leads the reader by the hand inferring that personal threats have been made to assessors. To my knowledge, not one threat has been made to anybody.  More than that I’d be mortified if it had – that’s not the way to hold an organisation up for accountability. A social media shout-out requesting accountability is not threatening behaviour.  Let me go further – I DO question the integrity of the person that wrote the report that we received, and I DO question the integrity of an organisation attempting to gaslight their way out of an issue. I DO NOT question the integrity of John Gardyne, our main assessor, we don’t question the integrity of Catherine Dulin who came to assess Hair and took time to speak to us after the performance, and we DON’T question the integrity of Brenda Barratt-Glassman who was our second assessor. I DO find it a shame though THEY weren’t so loyal to their assessors in a zoom meeting when they mentioned that one of them hadn’t been able to understand a system that we were trialling at Trinity’s request.  Note how I would NEVER sell one of those brilliant assessors down the Swanee. In fact – it strikes me that we’re standing up for the integrity of the assessors by wanting to see the original report. We believe that report to have been an accurate representation of our course.

To conclude, we are also a charity. . . but I’ll save you the gaslighting PR job, as I’d rather just deal with facts.