Stanbridge Earls School
The main building
|Motto||Building confidence - Achieving success|
|Established||15 September 1952|
|Closed||2 September 2013|
|Type||Independent Residential Special School|
|Headmistress||Maggie McMurray (Interim)|
Stanbridge Earls School was a coeducational Independent Residential Special School located near Romsey, Hampshire, England. Students ranged in age from 10–19. The school catered for both boarding and day pupils.
The main building of the former school is a Tudor manor house which contained the reception and maths department. It is a Grade II* listed building. Facilities at the school included a sports hall, an indoor swimming pool, a theatre and tennis courts.
Controversy and closure
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. 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".
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." 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”.
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."
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.
In late-2013 the school was informed by the DfE "that they do not wish the School to continue trading with the existing governance." 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."
Operation Flamborough concluded on 2nd of May 2014 and the CPS announced that "No charges were to be brought"  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"
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.
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."
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
- Christopher Gibbs, art dealer
- Tom Hart Dyke
- David Manners, 11th Duke of Rutland
- Francis Napier, 15th Lord Napier
- Guy Ritchie
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Stanbridge Earls School.|
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