More shocking revelations from an Oftsed Advice Note about Stanbridge Earls School recently secured from an FOI request. The Report details incidents of homosexual oral rape and under age sex which went unreported, in addition to the previously reported rape allegations and other abuse at the school. 4 weeks before this report was published Caroline Nokes MP publicly backed the school.
Over the last 4 years my family and I have been the target of threats, harassment and false allegations as I continue to expose the truth about Stanbridge Earls School and the authorities involved in the child abuse cover-up.
A number of individuals, including parents from the school, continue to claim that there was nothing wrong with Stanbridge Earls School and that the content of articles on this blog are false.
I can only assume it is mixture of denial and a campaign to distract from the truth about the school, which closed in 2013.
I can understand a state of denial where the child abuse is concerned, after all no parent wants to admit they have put their child willingly in harms way or, God forbid, their child was a victim of abuse that they are not aware of. There are parents who attack me to this day who do not even know the truth about their own children because Stanbridge Earls School decided it was down to the children to tell their parents what had happened to them, and not the schools responsibility.
I have previously published the Emergency Inspection Residential Report – 30th April 2013 now, through a Freedon of Information request, I can reveal the extent of the failings of Stanbridge Earls School, Staff, Teachers and Governors through the Ofsted Advice Note For An Emergency Inspection – Welfare Only – Stanbridge Earls School.
The Report details leadership failings, staff failings, training failings and more disturbingly further examples of children engaging in unlawful sexual activity: one of a serious sexual assault (boy on boy) and the other of underage sex among children (girl aged 16 and boy aged 14). Neither case was referred to child protection or the police. This was in a school where children had severe learning difficulties and mental ages well below their actual ages.
HEAD TEACHERS FAILINGS
The Report is highly critical of the Head Teacher, Peter Trythall and his running of the school, saying: “The DfE rejected the school’s original action plan following the January 2013 Ofsted inspection. The school has worked to strengthen and implement an updated action plan to address safeguarding failures. In some areas progress has been made, management structures revised and practice improved. However, serious weaknesses remain.”
“…new houseparent who has no relevant residential experience was left in sole charge of 39 boys within a week of starting to work at the school. His induction had included basic child protection instruction, but he had not been given an overview of individual young people’s needs or directed to read risk assessments.”
Going on to say: “Since the inspection in January 2013, six new staff started working at the school prior to receipt of a Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check. At the time of appointment for five of these staff, there was no documented risk assessment to confirm that the headteacher had given permission for them to commence working and to outline the necessary additional supervision arrangements. The continued failure here is a real concern and indicative of weakness in the leadership of the school.”
CHAIR OF GOVERNOR FAILINGS
The Report was also highly critical of the Chair of the Governors.
There remains a lack of clear leadership within the school to enable them to take forward the post-inspection action plan despite the appointment of a team of consultants. This is preventing rapid improvement, clear prioritisation and resource allocation on a systematic basis. The school does not have an overarching development plan and, while there is much work underway, the two deputy headteachers are working beyond their individual and collective capacity. The school’s own performance assessment shows that, while the two deputy headteachers have potential, their ability to lead and manage the school is limited. They are unable to lead the school out of the crisis within which it is now operating.
During the inspection, the Chair of Governors accepted that the management arrangements were inadequate and would not secure the urgent improvements required. This is despite initially reporting a ‘growing confidence’ in the leadership team.”
DEPUTY HEAD FAILINGS
It is also critical of the Deputy Head. Although not named in the report one of the Deputy Head’s at the time was Grant Taylor who was later embroiled in another scandal at Durand Boarding School in West Sussex after parents withdrew their children after his appointment when they found out about his history at Stanbridge Earls School.
BASIC AUTISM AWARENESS FAILINGS
In a school where a high proportion of the children had Special Educational Needs and Autism, the staff clearly did not even have the most basic of understanding of how to care for these children: “The National Autistic Society (NAS) has audited the school, identifying the need for staff to attend basic awareness training in autistic spectrum disorders. The NAS has been commissioned to deliver this training by the end of the summer term.”
SERIOUS SEXUAL ASSAULT/RAPE INCIDENT
In a School where the events surrounding this report stemmed from a rape allegation it is criminal that accounts of further rape allegations and sexual assaults were dealt with in such an off-hand manner. It was as if these events were so common place at the school that they did not bother the staff nor warranted the correct procedures.
“On 26 April 2013, the school was informed that a boy who had previously boarded at Stanbridge Earls had made an allegation of serious sexual assault (oral rape) against another boy that occurred while they both attended the school. The alleged perpetrator is still a boarder at Stanbridge Earls. While the school worked promptly and sensitively to remove the alleged perpetrator from the establishment for the weekend, he was re-admitted as a boarder on 29 April 2013 without a full assessment of risk. This young person shares a bedroom with two other teenage boys. Until instructed to do so by inspectors, the school failed to assess the risk associated with allowing these three young people to share a bedroom. Given the wide range of needs of children who board, the failure to identify this risk factor is a significant omission. In this case, decision making, including risk assessment, was overseen by the Chair of Governors and a Deputy Headteacher; these individuals failed to fully recognise, assess and manage risk appropriately.”
UNDERAGE SEX BETWEEN PUPILS
In another case that clearly warranted the involvement of child protection services and the police, the Deputy Head appears to simply brush the incident under the carpet. It begs the question exactly what were the parents really told about the incident as I doubt any caring parent of a 14 year old boy would have been happy to send their child back into this environment.
“In a second case, the school was informed that a 14-year-old boy and 16-year-old girl had entered into a sexual relationship during the Easter holidays. On their return to school, following discussions with the parents, the Deputy Headteacher concluded that the relationship was consensual and therefore decided that it should not be referred to external agencies. There is no record of how this assessment was made and the instructions issued to staff were basic and unrealistic given staffing levels at the school.”
The report concluded that in May 2013 that children remained “unsafe” at the school.
“The school has not made the urgent improvements required by Ofsted in January 2013 because leadership is not clear and incisive. Although this inspection has found evidence that there have been some improvements to safeguarding since the end of March, and particularly since the resignation of the previous headteacher, it is a concern that more significant improvement has not been secured in the three months since the last inspection. As a consequence of continuing weaknesses within leadership and governance, children remain unsafe at this residential special school.”
WHO KNEW ABOUT THESE FAILINGS?
All this information was available to the then Head of Hampshire County Council’s Children’s Services, John Coughlan and soon to be Leader of HCC, Cllr Roy Perry. This report would have also been made available to Hampshire Police during their Operation Oregan and Flamborough investigations.
Just 4 weeks before Ofsted started this investigation, Caroline Nokes, the MP for Romsey & Southampton North, publicly backed the failing Headteacher Peter Trythall and was also campaigning to keep the school open, claiming in the press that the school had made “massive strides”.
Working on the “ice-berg principle” where only the tip will be visible – there will be further examples of rape and sexual abuse that have not been reported, yet.
Read the full Report here: Ofsted Advice Note For An Emergency Inspection – Welfare Only – Stanbridge Earls School.
Further Reading: Stanbridge Earls School – A Timeline of Abuse