All I wanted to do was to run a small drama college, when things went tits up last year I took time to process it all and then just move on, and in truth whilst I’ve found this year’s closure announcement harder, it’s only because of the way that it’s come about. Now, simply by standing up for the college, the course, the staff and the students, I’ve unwittingly found myself embroiled in some ridiculous battle for the truth.  

This week I was accused of embarking on a social media campaign against Trinity, with Trinity emailing me with an ultimatum of removing my blogs, publishing this letter, or run the risk of them setting their lawyers on me.  Now as regular readers will know for the past 7 years I’ve used this blog account in an attempt to raise awareness of certain issues, a place where my voice can be heard unedited, after all, I am only ever writing my truth. So given the ultimatum and the contents of the letter, I was delighted to share it, even though it was worded to raise questions about the validity of our concerns.

In their letter they once again attempted to address our complaints. I mean I have some observations about some of their statements eg I’m curious about this sentence when discussing our main assessor how he’d “reflected the view of his colleague that the performance which she attended in early March was strong in material and acting, but the dance numbers were basic and overall the work seen did not fully demonstrate appropriate Level 6 standards.” I’m a massive fan of John Gardyne our main assessor. I could talk for hours about the conversations that we had which bore no relationship to what they’re claiming were his private concerns, but of course that would come down to my word against theirs (or indeed for some of those statements, our word against theirs, as both students and staff heard a very different version), so I won’t bother going into it all again, however I’m really curious about how John came to the same conclusions that the other assessor allegedly came to over the show, as he hadn’t seen it. Only one assessor came to watch SOSN and that was Brenda Garrett-Glassman. 

In this situation I’m always curious about what people don’t say eg in their response, you’ll note that they failed to mention that the assessor on our final show clearly named that all of our students did meet the right level in all 3 disciplines? Anyway, I’m sure that they just wanted to keep their statement brief?

The letter did for the first time say that our main assessor “withdrew” from our assessment, so you guys found that out at the same time as us. Lucky you!  As far as we were concerned until that statement was sent John went off sick with covid sometime around 25th March and never returned.  When we chased the report we were told that we’d have to wait for his return, so really interesting to now hear that he withdrew from it all. Of course, we’ve tried to track John down, after all, he was the person that we’d dealt with, unfortunately, when we contacted him he told us that he’d left Trinity and therefore wouldn’t speak to us. 

I think that the wording of the statement was interesting eg when discussing watching online performances which is one of the areas that we think is contentious they said this: “Trinity has never represented that it watched in entirety the hundreds of hours of recordings that you submitted.” See that’s really interesting to me as that makes me sound a bit mad doesn’t it? Like I’ve been sending them hours of recordings? Why on earth would I have been doing that? In reality, John asked me to send all of our archive performances from Dec 2020 – just 7 shows in total. They literally received the shows that they requested, so not hours at all. In fact, John had been monitoring our shows since June 2020 and had already watched some of our online work prior to the 2021 stuff, as he wanted to be sure that our work was meeting the correct standard before agreeing that we should apply when the criteria changed.

I find it interesting that they attempt to discredit me again when they write about me not understanding the validation process. It’s like they hadn’t received a handover of the 90 mins conversation that John, Brenda and myself had when they were giving me their original recommendations in a zoom, as if they had there was no way that they could have made that statement after all that zoom discussion wasn’t an informal chat, it was part of our formal assessment procedure, they were literally giving me their report recommendations? 

Similarly, their stuff around funding is somewhat muddied, for sure the EFSA allocate the DaDAs but you must be offering a Trinity Level 6 Diploma in order to be considered. As for “other ways for in which your students can access ALAs” (I think that they meant ALL) well at Level 6 there isn’t, and our course operated at Level 6. What I find fascinating is how all the assessors that we dealt with had such pride in the Trinity Diploma, all of them were pleased that we had elected to take this route to student funding as opposed to a degree route, yet here it’s like Trinity themselves don’t understand the value of their course?

Anyway – their letter (I’m mindful to keep sharing it, as I want all of you to read exactly what they’re saying) was clearly designed to scare me, the threat of the lawyer and all that. Of course, you can’t involve lawyers if the person making the statements that you feel are harmful to your organisation are true. I mean you can. . . but you really run the risk of being exposed. I would be bloody stupid to be fighting this report if I wasn’t sure of my facts. For me, the reputation of my college, students and staff is every bit as valuable as the reputation of a global organisation such as Trinity. The MTA is closing in 2 weeks and I’d like the final word to be the report that John had written, not a report cobbled together with huge inaccuracies. 

Of course, things are even more interesting now as 2 whistleblowers have come forward from Trinity. The definition of a whistleblower is “a person who informs on a person or organisation regarded as engaging in an unlawful or immoral activity”. I’ve discovered that Trinity staff were sent an email warning them not to talk to us (or the press), once again being advised that Trinity “do not tolerate personal attacks on their. . . staff” so I’m hugely appreciative of the people that have come forward. 

For obvious reasons I’m not going to divulge what we know as that would be dumb right? We were hoping that OfQual would investigate for us, but seemingly their regulating duties only kick in once a college is validated (go figure). Our concerns are still sitting with the Charity Commission so we’ll wait to see what they do. As a result of the new information, we are now also taking some legal counsel to see what our position is.

Meanwhile, in line with the ethos of The MTA to always be transparent I’ve shared all the information that I was given with the wider college community, and I guess IF the Trinity external arbiter fails to uncover the truth then it’ll be down to me to get the truth out. However we’re a way off that, as it seems only fair to let the Trinity internal investigation run its course, and I’m looking forward to chatting to the arbiter.

You see we all have a reputation to protect, and just because some charities are bigger than others, it doesn’t make their reputation any more valuable. I spent 14 years building a college on a foundation of integrity & transparency, and that is the relic that I want to be leaving as a legacy.  In the meantime though. . . keep reading their letter