Stanbridge Earls School

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Stanbridge Earls School
Main House.JPG
The main building
Motto Building confidence - Achieving success
Established 15 September 1952 (1952-09-15)
Closed 2 September 2013
Type Independent Residential Special School
Headmistress Maggie McMurray (Interim)
Location Romsey
UK Coordinates: 51°00′26″N 1°31′12″W / 51.007133°N 1.520027°W / 51.007133; -1.520027
Gender Mixed
Ages 10–19
  • A House - Red
  • B House - Light blue
  • C House - Yellow
  • D House - Navy blue

Stanbridge Earls School was a coeducational Independent Residential Special School located near Romsey, Hampshire, England. Students ranged in age from 10–19.[1] The school catered for both boarding and day pupils.[2]

The main building of the former school is a Tudor manor house which contained the reception and maths department.[3] It is a Grade II* listed building.[4] Facilities at the school included a sports hall, an indoor swimming pool, a theatre and tennis courts.

The school specialized in teaching and helping pupils with dyslexia, dyscalculia, developmental coordination disorder and mild Asperger syndrome.[5][6][7]

Controversy and closure[edit]

The school was investigated by the Department for Education (DfE) following a tribunal which had raised safety concerns after examining the way Stanbridge Earls had dealt with historic claims that a 15-year old girl pupil had been allegedly raped twice by other pupils and a 12-year old girl pupil had been sexually assaulted. The Special Educational Needs and Disability Tribunal (SENDIST) found the school to be "unsystematic, unprofessional, ad hoc and completely inadequate" when it came to protecting the youngsters.[8] An Ofsted inspection report, published in February 2013, said the school had failed to identify how it cared for the needs of individual students and did not make individual risk assessments "even in cases where the risk of harm that a child poses to others or themselves is known to be high".[9]

A follow-up inspection took place in May 2013. It found that "As a consequence of continuing weaknesses with leadership and governance, children remain unsafe at this residential special school" and that "urgent improvements called for by Ofsted have not been made due to a lack of 'clear and incisive' leadership."[10] A nurse at the school, Angela O'Neill, has been summoned to appear before the Nursing and Midwifery Council at a fitness to practise interim order hearing on 22 July 2013, where an independent panel will look at whether there is an “immediate risk to public protection”.[11]

On 19 June the same year it was announced that Ofsted had taken disciplinary action against some of its own staff after admitting mistakes were made while investigating the school previously. An Ofsted spokesperson said: “We have carried out a review of the inspection history of the school from 2011. It is clear that our inspections could have got underneath what was happening sooner."[12]

Operation Flamborough, an internal Hampshire Constabulary inquiry, was launched to determine whether police involved in previous investigations into sex abuse claims at the school in 2011 should be disciplined. Hampshire Constabulary said they wanted to find out whether any "criminal offences" have been committed against the known victims or other children attending the £39,000-a-year school.[13]

In late-2013 the school was informed by the DfE "that they do not wish the School to continue trading with the existing governance."[14] Two proposals to take over the running of the school fell away and on 2 September 2013 the school announced that insolvency administrators had been called in. In a letter to parents on behalf of the board of trustees, David Du Croz, the chairman, called the move a "very sad outcome". He added that it was a "tragic end to a once great school."[15]

Operation Flamborough concluded on 2nd of May 2014 and the CPS announced that "No charges were to be brought" [16] against any of the staff or pupils originally accused. This decision came after one of the most extensive reviews made by several different Police Constabularies taking over "6,000 hours of police time in the investigations"[17]

Allegations made against Chief Constable Andy Marsh were also found unjustified. "Essex Police had confirmed it found "no grounds to justify" the allegations relating to Stanbridge Earls School, near Romsey" and he was formally "cleared of misconduct after investigation into Stanbridge Earls School" on the 10th of June 2014.[18][19]

On 1 December 2014 the Charity Commission cleared the Trustees of Stanbridge of any wrongdoing and stated "they acted properly in the wake of a pupil's allegation of rape" and further commented "the school's financial future hung in the balance "as a result of the style of coverage by the press and media" over the allegation and the tribunal's decision."[20]

Despite closure, the Wyvern Society, for alumni and former members of the Common Room, remains active. The Chairman is Peter Bragg, D House, (1960-1964). A regular newsletter, edited by Martin Milward, D House, (1967-1973) is published and reunions are organised.

Notable former pupils[edit]


  1. ^ Averre-Beeson, Trevor (13 June 2008). "The Conversation: Specific learning difficulties". Times Educational Supplement (4792) (London). p. 23. ProQuest document ID 763436558. 
  2. ^ Midgley, Simon (21 March 2012). "From army training to first-name terms with the head: If you want a self-reliant child, the log cabins are waiting, reveals Simon Midgley". The Times (London). p. 4. ProQuest document ID 929387170. 
  3. ^ Clare, John (20 February 1998). "The Best Schools Guide: Now for somewhere special". The Daily Telegraph (London). p. 24. ProQuest document ID 316959211. 
  4. ^ "Stanbridge Earls". English Heritage. Retrieved 30 June 2013. 
  5. ^ Averre-Beeson, Trevor (11 January 2008). "Can you spot the difference?". Times Educational Supplement (4770) (London). ProQuest document ID 209494227. 
  6. ^ Donovan, Patrick; Murphy, Paul; Barrie, Chris; Atkinson, Dan (24 January 1996). "The golden touch of Copperfingers: At £15 million a year, 35-year-old Charles Vincent is probably Britain's highest paid director. But how has he got there?". The Guardian (Manchester). ProQuest document ID 294908465. 
  7. ^ "Noticeboard: People". Times Educational Supplement (4871) (London). 1 January 2010. p. 10. ProQuest document ID 762762849. 
  8. ^ "Another staff member quits sex scandal school". Southern Daily Echo (Southampton). 22 April 2013. Retrieved 30 April 2013. 
  9. ^ "Charity Commission launches inquiry into school trust at centre of sex abuse allegations". Third Sector. 4 April 2013. Retrieved 30 April 2013. 
  10. ^ "Stanbridge Earls School inspection finds pupils 'remain unsafe'". BBC News. 23 May 2013. Retrieved 21 June 2013. 
  11. ^ "Stanbridge Earls School nurse under investigation". Southern Daily Echo. 18 July 2013. Retrieved 22 July 2013. 
  12. ^ Knox, Patrick (19 June 2013). "Ofsted disciplines its staff over bungled inspection at Hampshire school". Southern Daily Echo (Southampton). Retrieved 2013-06-21. 
  13. ^ "Inquiry launched into police handling of school case". Southern Daily Echo (Southampton). 8 April 2013. Retrieved 12 April 2013. 
  14. ^ DuCroz, David (12 July 2013). "Chair of the Governors: Letter". Stanbridge Earls School. Retrieved 18 July 2013. 
  15. ^ "Stanbridge Earls School calls in administrators". BBC News. 2 September 2013. Retrieved 26 October 2013. 
  16. ^ "Stanbridge Earls School sex abuse allegations: No charges to be brought". BBC News. 2 May 2014. Retrieved 3 March 2015. 
  17. ^ Curtis, Joe (2 May 2014). "No charges after allegations of sex abuse at Stambridge Earls school". Southern Daily Echo. Retrieved 3 March 2015. 
  18. ^ "'No action' over Hampshire chief constable alleged misconduct". BBC News. 9 June 2014. Retrieved 3 March 2015. 
  19. ^ "Hampshire Chief Constable Andy Marsh cleared of misconduct after investigation into Stanbridge Earls School". Southern Daily Echo. 10 June 2014. Retrieved 3 March 2015. 
  20. ^ "Stanbridge Earls School trustee actions 'satisfactory'". BBC News. 1 December 2014. Retrieved 3 March 2015. 
  21. ^ "Christopher Henry GIBBS". Debrett's. Retrieved 25 May 2014. 
  22. ^ Sale, Jonathan (20 April 2006). "PASSED/FAILED: 'I kept going to see the orchids'". The Independent (London). p. 8. ProQuest document ID 310976604. 
  23. ^ Miller, Compton (29 September 2002). "Keeping it in the family". The Mail on Sunday (London). p. 38. ProQuest document ID 328785428. 
  24. ^
  25. ^ Teeman, Tim (11 March 2002). "The voice of Posh Lib". The Times (London). ProQuest document ID 318637329.