A SCHOOL for some of Scotland's most troubled boys has been closed to new pupils.

A watchdog has suspended all admissions at a church-run residential centre in Ayrshire which caters for, among others, underage sex offenders.

The Care Commission yesterday said no boys would be sent to Geilsland School, which is in Beith, until it increases security and child protection procedures.

There has been a series of critical reports about the school, whose former pupils include Colyn Evans, the 18year-old jailed last year for killing 16-year-old Karen Dewar.

In the past, the Care Commission has raised concerns over bullying and drinking at the school, which looks after up to 35 boys aged between 15 and 18.

Henry Mathias, the Care Commission's regional manager responsible for inspecting the school, said: "We have set out very clear demands for Geilsland and we are working extremely closely with them to help them meet those demands.

"Our greatest concern and consideration at all times is the welfare and well-being of the people who use any care service, in this case young people who are among the most troubled or vulnerable in society.

"Only when we are satisfied that Geilsland meets the standards we have set will we consider allowing further residents to be admitted."

The latest concerns were raised by the Care Commission in December of last year after a joint inspection from the Social Work Inspectorate Agency and Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Education.

The commission imposed an improvement notice on the school with five key demands:

to put in place a dedicated child protection procedure;

to carry out a complete review of the security, safety, and suitability of the premises and its grounds;

to review and, where necessary, update individual risk assessments for all residents to ensure they address safety of residents as well as the risks they may pose to others;

redraft the statement of aims and objectives for one residential unit within the school;

to improve the system of ensuring all residents get a full and detailed health check at the time of admission.

Inspectors revisited the school in late March to see if improvements had been made. They have still to report back on that visit. Until they do, no new pupils can be admitted.

The Herald understands the Care Commission wrote to all councils in Scotland suspending admissions on March 27.

A school, opened in 1964, is owned and run by the Church of Scotland's Board for Social Responsibility, now known as CrossReach.

A spokesman for the church said: "Our understanding is that this is a temporary state of affairs. The school was visited in March by the Care Commission. The commission is now due to issue a report as a consequence of that visit. It has yet to do so.

"The letter was sent to local authorities asking them not to make any further referrals while we look at some areas of service at the school."

Geilsland is able to care for 35 boys in three residential units. There are currently 21 children on site. Youngsters are usually referred to the school by children's panels.

Another Ayrshire residential school for troubled youngsters closed earlier this year. Kerelaw, near Stevenston, was shut down after a police and council investigation. Two Kerelaw teachers were last month convicted for sexual and physical abuse. Twelve other members of staff were sacked and others suspended.