Maggie Blyth’s Report – Click Here
A selection of the press coverage following the report can be read at the following links:
- Stanbridge Earls School “failed to protect vulnerable girls” – BBC
- School at centre of sex abuse scandal “failed to protect vulnerable girls” – Hampshire Chronicle
- Stanbridge Earls School “failed to protect vulnerable girls” – Daily Echo
- Andover Advertiser – School in Test Valley hit by sex abuse claims ‘failed’ young girls
1. Not a single person connected to the School staff, medical establishments, police or county council is named in this report or criticised. This was not a collective failing, individuals played key roles in this and had greater responsibilities than others so should have been named.
2. The only person named is a former pupil who was recently found guilty of sexual offences, some of which were carried out while he was as young as 10 and in the care of Stanbridge Earls School. But Maggie Blyth doesn’t even raise an eyebrow as to how a child as young as 10 becomes a sexual offender in a school environment and whether or not he too was a victim while in the care of the school?
3. The Report also fails to say that a number of teachers from Stanbridge Earls School have since been charged by the National College of Teachers & Lecturers (NCTL) and a number of nursing staff have also been charged by the NMC.
4. Despite HCC and Hants Police being the main bodies responsible for these children, outside of the school itself, neither organisations gets anything more than a slap on the wrist in the report. Although in fairness it’s never a great idea to attack in a report those who are your “statutory partners”.
5. Given the fact that the only recent conviction relating to offences that took place at Stanbridge Earls School was actually by a “boy on 5 boys”, it is self evident that the school did not only fail girls, it failed boys as well. It also failed their parents and those members of staff not involved in the crimes which have been reported.
6. And finally, the Report failed to make reference to the local MP and her role in the lead up to the school’s closure. Not a single mention of her meddling, her u-turning, her support for the Head Teacher, her insistence the school stay open even in light of the mounting charges against it or her distressing attitude towards the parents of victims.
Apparently she was “unavailable for comment” when the Daily Echo tried to contact her. Incredible really given she had so much to say about the school previously. I imagine “unavailable for comment” is legal speak these days for “I have been legally advised to keep my gob shut which is what I should have done a couple of years ago”.
It is worth noting that whenever the matter of Stanbridge Earls School is put before an independent judicial body it finds against the agencies and for the victims of abuse. But whenever reports are done internally, as in this case, they always find for the agencies.
Well in the interests of filling in the gaps of the report here are a few facts about the history of Stanbridge Earls School, all available in the public domain.
As to where this goes now, well, the Goddard Inquiry is the obvious place and I understand several submissions have already been made to that. From my personal knowledge of this case I believe we are a long way from finding out the truth about events at SES.
In time honoured tradition though, the only thing to come out of Ms Blyth’s Report is that no doubt “lessons will be learnt by those involved to prevent this happening again in the future”. I must remember next time I speak to one of those former pupils, who was a victim of abuse at the school, what lessons they have learnt!
STANBRIDGE EARLS SCHOOL TIME-LINE
24th April 2004
A child at SES hung himself in the school dormitories after being discovered with alcohol by House Master. This was acknowledged in the Commission for Social Care Inspection (CSCI) Inspection and report that followed in July 2004. http://www.dailyecho.co.uk/archive/2004/04/27/5573702.BOY_FOUND_HANGING_AT_TOP_SCHOOL/?ref=arc
5th – 7th July 2004
The Commission for Social Care Inspection (CSCI), who were replaced by Ofsted in 2005, issued a critical report on Stanbridge Earls School (SES) around issues relating to safeguarding and risk assessment, saying: “This inspection highlighted a number of areas where improvements need to be made, as is illustrated by the high number of recommendations made. Urgent attention needs to be given to health and safety matters, with a comprehensive risk assessment process implemented and monitored for all high risk activities and across all departments…Staffing levels in the boarding houses need continued improvement, particularly for boarders under 15 years old. Staff recruitment processes need to be rigorously enforced and all staff must be appropriately supervised… The provision for the care of boarders who are ill is inadequate, both in terms of the space available and, on occasions, their supervision… The school’s procedures for notifying the appropriate authorities of significant events relating to the protection of children are not precise enough and there have been some omissions. All the elements of this standard need to be adhered to.” Commission for Social Care Inspection Report 5-7th July 2004
A 13 year old female pupil who “let herself” be sexually abused by male pupils, was excluded from school. Boys involved given litter picking duties. In 2013 during meetings with parents from Stanbridge Earls School Caroline Nokes MP admitted she was aware of this incident.
Child complains of sexual abuse. This historical incident of abuse was acknowledged by John Coughlan Deputy Chief Executive of Hampshire County Council in his letter to County Councillors on the 4th April 2013, see later entry below.
Throughout 2011 “Miss C” was a victim of sexual abuse and grooming. Local Safeguarding Agencies (LSA) fail to undertake a S.47 Children’s Act Inquiry. Cllr Roy Perry was the Hampshire County Council Cabinet Lead and 2 Conservative Hampshire County Cllrs were Trustees of Stanbridge Earls School.
21st October 2011
Department for Education (DfE) through Stephen Bishop, and Ofsted, jointly notified of rape and sexual abuse by solicitors of rape claimant but arrange with Ofsted to undertake a one day unannounced inspection of school for “bullying” in January 2012.
“Miss C’s” parents lodge disability claim, sex discrimination claim and neglect. Trustees do not inform the Charity Commission of this, or the risk to their Charity status, until June 2012. Questions still remain as to whether the Trustees informed their insurers and auditors, and if so, when?
Ofsted, Hampshire Constabulary, DfE and Hampshire County Council refuse to act when a 2nd mother complains of a sexual and physical assault on her child.
25th September 2012
DI Bitters telephones the solicitor acting for the abused girls and is abusive herself during the call.
Detective Inspector (DI) Bitters of Hampshire Constabulary confirms to abusees’ solicitors safeguarding at school is “rubbish” but refuses to refer the school to safeguarding board, as confirmed by the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC).
Stanbridge Earls School and Hampshire Constabulary thwart investigation by an alternative local authority’s Head of Safeguarding by refusing to co-operate with them.
Hampshire County Council alerted to serious risk of children at school but it refuses to act.
16th, 19th, 20th & 21st Nov 2012 and 18th Dec 2012
Special Educational Needs Disability Tribunal (SENDiST) Hearing into claims that Stanbridge Earls School discriminated against “Miss C” under Section 85 of the 2010 Equality Act.
15th Jan 2013
Special Educational Needs Disability Tribunal (SENDiST) finds in “Miss C’s” favour and highlights serious safeguarding concerns at Stanbridge Earls School. 13.01.15 redacted SENDT Decision Report
21st Jan 2013
Caroline Nokes MP raises SES (Stanbridge Earls School) on floor of the House of Commons seeking meeting with Minister.
“Caroline Nokes (Romsey and Southampton North) (Con): Twenty thousand pupils in Hampshire are educated in the independent sector, including children with special educational needs, yet those schools do not benefit from the same level of scrutiny by child protection boards as those in the state sector. Given the appalling case of sexual abuse and the recent tribunal ruling at a school in my constituency which specialises in teaching children with special educational needs, will my hon. Friend agree to meet me as a matter of urgency to discuss what measures can be taken to improve that situation?” http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201213/cmhansrd/cm130121/debtext/130121-0001.htm#13012112000573
22nd Jan 2013
Caroline Nokes MP asks to meet with “Miss C” family at Portcullis House. She provides them with a dossier of other pupils who had suffered abuse. Confirms mattresses in school woods used for sexual activity and knowledge of drug dealing at school but had not handed it over to police.
28th – 30th Jan 2013
Ofsted undertake an Emergency Unannounced Inspection and finds serious safeguarding concerns “children are unsafe”. Emergency Inspection Report Stanbridge Earls School 28:01:2013 to 30:01:2013
Deputy Children Commissioner raises serious concerns over children’s safety at school with DfE
Ministry of Defence (MoD) confirms it was aware of abuse cases going back to 2004.
Another child victim of rape and abuse steps forward.
Jan & Feb 2013
Stephen Bradshaw, leading expert, offers services to change Stanbridge Earls School around. Rejected by Trustees.
Ofsted launches inquiry into its inspection failings.
Police launch Operation Flamborough – 5 rape claimants step forward. http://www.dailyecho.co.uk/news/10310492.Police_investigate_sex_abuse_claims_at_special_school/
Stanbridge Earls School ordered by Ministers to produce Action Plan.
Caroline Nokes MP sends numerous emails to Ministers seeking meetings. Finally meets Edward Timpson in public lobby of House and discusses sexual abuse in public area! No civil servants present, meeting not minuted. Civil Servants comment between each other in emails of her conduct towards them. Freedom of Information Documents & Ministerial Notes on Caroline Nokes MP and Stanbridge Earls School
17th March 2013
Caroline Nokes MP meets with parent Helen Owen, and tells parents of girls “school must stay open at all costs”.
23rd March 2013
Leading Labour MP briefs media against Caroline Nokes MP press release, leading to national interest and media attention on school. http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/police-probe-sexual-assault-claims-1781432 and http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2301327/Stanbridge-Earls-boarding-school-girl-raped-15-head-accused-cover-up.html
26th March 2013
As admitted by Operation Oregon and in Caroline Nokes own emails to parents, Hampshire Police Chief Constable Andy Marsh orders disclosure of information to Caroline Nokes MP, including warning her in advance of any press interest. Superintendent Vicki Dennis briefs Caroline Nokes MP under the Chief Constable instructions. She is informed of a media inquiry from Kier Mudie of “People” Newspaper. Caroline Nokes MP issues press release referring to parents of rape claimants as “a few angry parents” throwing her full weight behind Head Teacher Peter Trythall and Trustees despite SENDiST and Ofsted findings, and despite Head Teacher being charged by NCTL (National College for Teaching and Leadership). Caroline Nokes MP states school has “turned around”. http://www.dailyecho.co.uk/news/district/romsey/10313436.MP_calls_for_school_at_centre_of_sex_abuse_claims_to_remain_open/?ref=rss
26th March 2013
Parents of abusees email Caroline Nokes MP and raise their concerns about her conduct and her failure to report abuse and protect children at Stanbridge Earls School. They wrote: “We are also concerned that you were aware of alcohol abuse, drug abuse and underage sex at the school and didn’t think to report it – that’s your job both as a responsible adult and an MP – you should not enable children to be at risk which your calls do.”
27th March 2013
Caroline Nokes MP, using her private email account and not her Parliament email account, sent an email to parents of victims admitting that she has been given confidential information by Hampshire Police. “Thank you for your further email. You will, of course, not be aware that I have been in regular contact with Hampshire Police who have given me accurate updates …This has been done via both face to face meetings with the Chief Constable and also via email to his lead officer investigating”.
NB: Caroline Nokes MP did not have any children from her Constituency attending Stanbridge Earls School therefore none of the children were her constituents and she was therefore not entitled to information about them.
27th March 2013
Caroline Nokes MP, defends the role of Cllr Roy Perry, referring to him as “my father” in emails. Cllr Perry, who in March 2013 was campaigning to become Leader of Hampshire County Council. Caroline Nokes told parents, “Stanbridge Earls as an independent school does not come under the remit of my father as Cabinet member for Education at HCC. He has only ever been accorded “observer” status at the Hampshire Safeguarding Children Board.” At no point in her email communications did Caroline Nokes offer the parents any sympathy in relation to what their daughter had been through.
27th March 2013
School Action Plan rejected by Ministers. School Action Plan contained false claims that the NSPCC and NMC were involved in safeguarding training – neither agency was. http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-england-hampshire-21960742
Caroline Nokes MP lobbies Ministers again but is met by civil servants setting out failures of school. Civil servants note Ms Nokes is irate. Freedom of Information Documents & Ministerial Notes on Caroline Nokes MP and Stanbridge Earls School
Parents of “Miss C” meet with Edward Timpson MP, he confirms he has referred Trustees to Charity Commission as he has no confidence in them.
4th April 2013
John Coughlan Deputy Chief Executive of Hampshire County Council, wrote to all Hampshire County Councillors saying “During the course of the publicity surrounding the case one additional person who previously attended the school has come forward to make an allegation about something that happened during her time at the school in 2008.” when in fact 5 rape claimants had come forward. http://davidsimpson.mycouncillor.org.uk/2013/04/04/stanbridge-earls-independent-school/
18th April 2013
Head Teacher Peter Trythall resigns http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-england-oxfordshire-22208785
Peter Trythall had also been the Junior House Master at Aberlour/Gordonstoun according to the CV he gave parents. On the 12th April 2015 national press reported serious allegations about the rape of children at Aberlour/Gordonstoun https://www.pressandjournal.co.uk/fp/news/547505/gordonstoun-school-deeply-shocked-at-child-abuse-claims/
22nd April 2013
The Guardian Newspaper reports that 2 recent cases show that Head Teachers, can’t always be relied upon to protect children from abuse in school. http://www.theguardian.com/education/2013/apr/22/abuse-allegations-school-teachers-reporting?CMP=share_btn_link
Charity Commission launches Statutory Inquiry into Trustees http://www.civilsociety.co.uk/governance/news/content/14820/commission_opens_inquiry_into_school_hit_by_sexual_abuse_scandal
Unannounced Emergency Ofsted Inspection accompanied by representatives of Children Commissioner and ISI Inspection, fail NMS, children ruled unsafe. Emergency Inspection Report Stanbridge Earls School 30:04:2013 to 2:05:2013 and reported further in the news http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-england-hampshire-22636179
Boys from SES abseil naked at Rua Fiola Island Outward Bound Centre, where owner, ex Stanbridge Earls Pupil is subsequently arrested, charged and convicted of sexual offences against children. http://www.dailyecho.co.uk/news/10517568.Female_staff_at_troubled_school_watch_boys_rock_climb_naked/
Boys treated as suspects in Public Order Offence in referral to Police Scotland. Still have never been interviewed or treated as possible victims despite the owner Ferguson Johnson conviction March 2015 for sexual abuse of children. Pupils from Gordonstoun School also attended Rua Fiola Island Outward Bound Centre https://www.pressandjournal.co.uk/fp/news/highlands/508058/sexual-abuse-was-a-gross-breach-of-trust/
Following her father’s election to Leader of the Council, Caroline Nokes MP says school must close if it does not improve and repeats call for inquiry, a reversal of her previous position, yet privately in letters to Ministers she was saying something. else. http://www.dailyecho.co.uk/news/10439500.MP_issues_ultimatum_to_school_at_centre_of_sex_abuse_claims/
Trustees admit school in financial difficulties and school will be taken over.
Further Ofsted Report finds school remains “unsafe” http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-england-hampshire-23182483 Emergency Inspection Report Stanbridge Earls School 18:06:2013 to 20:06:2013
The Guardian Newspaper Magazine reports on the need for “Mandatory Reporting” and references the raping of girls at Stanbridge Earls School and how the Head Teacher, Peter Trythall, and House Parent and Safeguarding Officer Frances Callendar were allowed to remain in post. http://www.theguardian.com/education/2013/jul/13/sex-abuse-schools-call-change-law
31st July 2013
Ofsted issues public apology to abusees and states following inquiry its three previous inspections of school in 2011 and 2012 were flawed. Several Ofsted members of staff are sacked. http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-england-hampshire-23515370 and http://www.theguardian.com/education/2013/jul/31/ofsted-apologises-girls-special-school
6th August 2013
Caroline Nokes MP writes to Michael Gove asking for a Public Enquiry into the events at Stanbridge Earls School. 060813 Copy of the Letter from Caroline Nokes MP to Michael Gove Calling For Public Enquiry into Stanbridge Earls School
Mother discovers images of her daughter’s sexual abuse and grooming. When she approaches Hampshire Constabulary to report it she is told she will be arrested if she does not delete images. She goes to Met Police who refer it back to Hampshire Police. Hampshire Police NFA (No further action) the complaint.
Take over falls-through as school is not financially viable.
School says it cannot re-open as insufficient pupil numbers.
Caroline Nokes MP calls for public inquiry in the press.
Sir Michael Savoury, ex Lord Mayor of London threatens DfE with Judicial Review if it closes school.
Insolvency firm Smith and Williamson LLP appointed as administrators for Stanbridge Earls School. Other schools that had faced child abuse allegations in the past had not closed, but in the case of Stanbridge Earls School it was clear from accounts that were later submitted, that it had not been a financially viable operation for some time and it was insolvent.
14th – 19th December 2013
SES School Doctor Dr Scriminger found guilty of failure to safeguard and poor record keeping over “Miss C”. Under oath he admits he had during his 9year tenure at the school seen a number of girl pupils for unlawful sexual activity and had not referred one child to safeguarding. He says he saw around 4 girls a year, but when pressed admitted it could be “hundreds of girls”. GMC Report into Dr Scrimingers “Fitness to Practice”
9th January 2014
Parents of abusees meet with Government Ministers to discuss the events leading up to the closure of Stanbridge Earls School (SES) in August 2013, and general issues arising from that.
Trustees admit sex discrimination and negligence to the Court.
Operation Oregon rules acceptable for Chief Constable to brief Caroline Nokes MP on individual children even though none were her constituents. http://www.dailyecho.co.uk/news/11135715.Did_top_cop_order_whitewash_into_probe_at_sex_scandal_school_/
Ofsted finally publishes Inquiry Report into its errors. https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/379566/Stanbridge_20Earls_20School_20Review_20Report.pdf
December 2014 and January 2015
Charity Commission withdraws 2 Inquiry Report and warns Trustees Inquiry may be re-opened http://www.dailyecho.co.uk/archive/2015/03/27/11884560.Commission_reviews_report_that_cleared_Stanbridge_trustees/
Secretariate Justice Goddard Inquiry refers Stanbridge Earls to National Crime Agency.
12th May 2015
Serious Case Review to be held into Stanbridge Earls School.
7th July 2015
BBC South Today report trial of former Stanbridge Earls School (SES) pupil charged of offences allegedly carried out while a pupil at SES.
15th July 2015
Stephenson found guilty of sexual offences when he was a child and a pupil at Stanbridge Earls School.
11th September 2015
Stephenson sentenced. The court heard that he had himself been the victim of abuse during his childhood. http://www.cps.gov.uk/wessex/cps_wessex_news/gareth_stephenson_sentenced_to_two_years_suspended_for_two_years_for_sexual_abuse_on_children/
2nd October 2015
Hampshire Safeguarding Children’s Board published Serious Case Review into Stanbridge Earls School.
7th October 2015
Charity Commission still investigating Stanbridge Earls School