I have long supported the campaign for a proper, transparent, all encompassing Public Inquiry into the allegations of rape and child abuse at the now closed Stanbridge Earls School.
In August 2013 the MP for Romsey also called for a Public Inquiry, and then she went silent on the matter . Instead her supporters attacked those who continued to ask for one. August 2013 Article
Stanbridge Earls School closed because it was insolvent and the financial irregularities had clearly been an issue for a considerable number of years given the amount of debt at the point of closure. It also repeatedly failed its Ofsted Reports with Ofsted finding it was not safe in many areas.
But I am pleased to read today that after withdrawing the Charity Commission Report, not once but twice, there could be a proper Inquiry into what happened at this school. For the victims, and there are many not just the alleged victims of rape, that could not come soon enough.
Too often things like this get swept under the carpet as the years pass, but as we have seen with cases like Jimmy Saville right through to allegations of historic child abuse involving MP’s and establishment figures and Dolphin Square rumours, things might be starting to change.
Certain political figures in Hampshire and County Council staff have a lot of questions to answer on Stanbridge Earls School so I for one am glad to see this subject coming back on the news agenda ahead of the General Election.
The National Child Abuse Inquiry which to be lead by Hon Justice Lowell Goddard will hopefully be a major part of this, as long as the next Government does not shelve as too often is the case.
DAILY ECHO REPORT – THURSDAY 26th MARCH 2015
AN investigation into the conduct of trustees at a special needs school in the wake of claims of sexual abuse could be re-opened, the Daily Echo can reveal.
The Charity Commission is looking again at its inquiry into Stanbridge Earls School near Romsey that previously found no fault in trustees’ decisions.
But questions have been raised about the findings of its report, which investigated whether trustees had managed the school charity properly in the wake of the allegations, prompting the move.
Following allegations the school was criticised for excluding the pupil who had made a rape claim and was subjected to multiple inspections.
The Charity Commission, which oversees charitable trusts, conducted its own probe into how the trustees handled the overall administration, governance and management of the charity.
It included trustees’ response to issues raised by Ofsted and the Department for Education (DfE).
A report published last December concluded that trustees had “made reasonable decisions” in managing the school charity while under intense scrutiny.
The Commission’s report then stated:
“The decisions taken by the trustee body, with specific regard to the tribunal action and subsequent engagement with the DfE and Ofsted were all within the range of reasonable decisions open to them at the relevant time.”
The Commission has removed the report from its website while it reviews the case and considers its next step.
As reported the school closed last year after failing to get enough children to sign up for classes for the new school year, making it financially unviable.
This came after a Special Educational Needs and Disability Tribunal in January 2013 found that the £39,000-a-year school had discriminated against a girl and that staff members failed to tell the youngster’s parents that she had complained of pain in an intimate part of her body.
An Ofsted inspection the next month also uncovered serious care failings.
An action plan drawn up by the school was rejected by the DfE.
Prosecutors later ruled there was insufficient evidence to bring charges for claims of sexual abuse of pupils.
They considered the original allegation made by the parents of a pupil and separate claims from four other pupils against 10 individual students.
It also investigated allegations of perverting the course of justice against two teachers.
A Charity Commission 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 report has been temporarily removed whilst these issues are assessed.”