Stanbridge Earls School
Main school building, viewed from the rear
|Motto||"Building confidence – Achieving success"|
|Established||15 September 1952|
|Closed||1 September 2013|
|Type||Independent special school|
|Location||Stanbridge Earls Lane
|DfE URN||116549 Tables|
|URN (Social Care)||SC012020|
Stanbridge Earls School was a coeducational independent special school located near Romsey, Hampshire, England. Students ranged in age from 10–19. The school catered for both boarding and day pupils. The school specialized in teaching and helping pupils with dyslexia, dyscalculia, developmental coordination disorder and mild Asperger syndrome. In 2013 the school was criticised for excluding a pupil who claimed that she had been raped. The school closed in 2014, following a series of inspections and investigations, when reduced pupil numbers led to it becoming financially unviable.
The school's trustees sold the site to a private purchaser who subsequently sold it for £10 million to Audley Retirement Villages. Audley plan to build a retirement village of 100 homes on the site, with the main school building retained and converted into a health club, restaurant and bistro for the community.
Building and grounds
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. The school was set in grounds covering 54 acres (220,000 m2).
Controversy and closure
Special Educational Needs and Disability Tribunal
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) said that a "vulnerable youngster had suffered appalling abuse at the hands of another student" and found the school to be "unsystematic, unprofessional, ad hoc and completely inadequate" when it came to protecting the youngsters. The report said the school had "no understanding of its duties" and its failure to act was "beyond the tribunal's comprehension". The tribunal described headteacher Peter Trythall's conduct as "bordering on contempt for statutory duties". It said the incidents raised "serious concerns" which needed to be addressed by Ofsted, the Secretary of State for Education and Hampshire County Council, while other local authorities should reconsider placement of their pupils at the school.
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." On 19 June 2013 it was announced that Ofsted had taken disciplinary action against some of its own staff after admitting mistakes were made during previous inspections which had rated the school as "outstanding". 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 had been committed against the known victims or other children attending the school. The operation concluded on 2 May 2014 and the CPS announced that there was "insufficient evidence to bring charges" against any of the staff or the 10 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 initially 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." In March 2015, however, concerns were raised about the accuracy of the report. The report was removed from the commission's website and a spokesman said: "Issues have been raised with the Commission by a third party about the content of the Statement of Results of Inquiry on Stanbridge Earls School Trust and the basis for the findings and conclusions drawn in it. The Commission has opened an assessment case to review the basis of and evidence for those claims to determine whether any adjustments to the report are required or should new information be provided, whether it will be necessary to re-open the inquiry." The Commission subsequently opened a statutory inquiry in October 2015.
Hampshire Safeguarding Children Board
In May 2015 it was reported that Hampshire Safeguarding Children Board were conducting a Serious Case Review of the school and the events leading to its closure. Maggie Blyth, Independent Chair of the board, said: "An independent review of events pertaining to the circumstances that led to the closure of Stanbridge Earls was commissioned and is currently nearing the final stages of completion. The purpose of the review was to identify and consider any lessons that could be learned by agencies in the light of the unusual nature of that episode - the apparent failings in the application of safeguarding policies and procedures by an independent school which has now closed."
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."
Notable former pupils
- Christopher Gibbs, art dealer
- Tom Hart Dyke
- David Manners, 11th Duke of Rutland
- Francis Napier, 15th Lord Napier
- Guy Ritchie
- Marc Sinden
- Averre-Beeson, Trevor (13 June 2008). "The Conversation: Specific learning difficulties". Times Educational Supplement (4792). London. p. 23. ProQuest document ID 763436558.
- 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.
- Averre-Beeson, Trevor (11 January 2008). "Can you spot the difference?". Times Educational Supplement (4770). London. ProQuest document ID 209494227.
- 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.
- "Noticeboard: People". Times Educational Supplement (4871). London. 1 January 2010. p. 10. ProQuest document ID 762762849.
- Adams, Melanie (12 May 2015). "Serious case review held into closed Stansbridge Earls school". Southern Daily Echo. Southampton. Retrieved 12 May 2015.
- Stilliard, Ed (29 January 2016). "Stanbridge Earls School sold and could be turned into retirement village". Southern Daily Echo. Southampton. Retrieved 25 April 2016.
- Clare, John (20 February 1998). "The Best Schools Guide: Now for somewhere special". The Daily Telegraph. London. p. 24. ProQuest document ID 316959211.
- "Stanbridge Earls". English Heritage. Retrieved 30 June 2013.
- Bracchi, Paul (30 March 2013). "An elite boarding school, a girl 'raped' at 15 and the head accused of a cover-up". Daily Mail. London. p. 12. ProQuest document ID 1321598841.
- "Boarding school at centre of sex abuse claims to close". The Daily Telegraph. London. 28 June 2013. ProQuest document ID 1372238140.
- "Stanbridge Earls School 'failed to protect vulnerable girls'". BBC News. 2 October 2015. Retrieved 25 April 2016.
- "Stanbridge to close after pupil numbers fall". Southern Daily Echo. Southampton. 19 August 2013. Retrieved 12 May 2015.
- "Another staff member quits sex scandal school". Southern Daily Echo. Southampton. 22 April 2013. Retrieved 30 April 2013.
- Kemble, Elizabeth (23 January 2013). "Damning report into failures of Stanbridge Earls School". Southern Daily Echo. Southampton. Retrieved 12 May 2015.
- "Charity Commission launches inquiry into school trust at centre of sex abuse allegations". Third Sector. 4 April 2013. Retrieved 30 April 2013.
- "Stanbridge Earls School inspection finds pupils 'remain unsafe'". BBC News. 23 May 2013. Retrieved 21 June 2013.
- Knox, Patrick (19 June 2013). "Ofsted disciplines its staff over bungled inspection at Hampshire school". Southern Daily Echo. Southampton. Retrieved 21 June 2013.
- "Stanbridge Earls School in Romsey to close after sex abuse claims". Southern Daily Echo. Southampton. 29 June 2013. Retrieved 12 May 2015.
- "Inquiry launched into police handling of school case". Southern Daily Echo. Southampton. 8 April 2013. Retrieved 12 April 2013.
- "Stanbridge Earls School sex abuse allegations: No charges to be brought". BBC News. 2 May 2014. Retrieved 3 March 2015.
- Curtis, Joe (2 May 2014). "No charges after allegations of sex abuse at Stambridge Earls school". Southern Daily Echo. Retrieved 3 March 2015.
- "'No action' over Hampshire chief constable alleged misconduct". BBC News. 9 June 2014. Retrieved 3 March 2015.
- "Hampshire Chief Constable Andy Marsh cleared of misconduct after investigation into Stanbridge Earls School". Southern Daily Echo. 10 June 2014. Retrieved 3 March 2015.
- "Stanbridge Earls School trustee actions 'satisfactory'". BBC News. 1 December 2014. Retrieved 3 March 2015.
- "Charity Commission looking again at inquiry into Stanbridge Earls School near Romsey". Southern Daily Echo. Southampton. 26 March 2015. Retrieved 12 May 2015.
- "New charity investigation: Stanbridge Earls School Trust". Gov.uk. 27 October 2015. Retrieved 25 April 2016.
- Stilliard, Ed (27 October 2015). "Charity watchdog to investigate Standbridge Earls at centre of sex abuse claims". Southern Daily Echo. Southampton. Retrieved 25 April 2016.
- DuCroz, David (12 July 2013). "Chair of the Governors: Letter" (PDF). Stanbridge Earls School. Retrieved 18 July 2013.
- "Stanbridge Earls School calls in administrators". BBC News. 2 September 2013. Retrieved 26 October 2013.
- "Christopher Henry GIBBS". Debrett's. Retrieved 25 May 2014.
- Sale, Jonathan (20 April 2006). "PASSED/FAILED: 'I kept going to see the orchids'". The Independent. London. p. 8. ProQuest document ID 310976604.
- Miller, Compton (29 September 2002). "Keeping it in the family". The Mail on Sunday. London. p. 38. ProQuest document ID 328785428.
- "Francis David Charles Napier, 15th Lord Napier of Merchistoun". The Peerage. Retrieved 12 May 2015.
- Teeman, Tim (11 March 2002). "The voice of Posh Lib". The Times. London. ProQuest document ID 318637329.
- Debrett's People of Today. Debrett's Ltd. 2009. ISBN 978-1-870520-95-9.
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