Hampshire & Isle of Wight

Stanbridge Earls School calls in administrators

Stanbridge Earls School
Image caption Two proposed takeovers of Stanbridge Earls School recently fell through

A Hampshire school criticised for its handling of a pupil's rape claim has called in administrators.

It follows an announcement last month that Stanbridge Earls School near Romsey was to close after not enough pupils registered for the new term.

Insolvency firm Smith and Williamson LLP are to be appointed administrators of the scandal-hit school.

In a letter to parents on behalf of the board of trustees, David Du Croz, called the move a "very sad outcome".

He added that it was a "tragic end to a once great school."

Two proposed takeovers of the school recently fell through - one amid concerns over pupil numbers after a tribunal in January found the school failed to protect a "vulnerable" pupil.

The girl's parents started legal action on discrimination grounds when she was excluded, after claiming that she was twice raped by fellow students.

'Terribly sad'

The tribunal heard the school believed she had consented and excluded her for breaking rules by having sex on its grounds.

The £40,000-a-year school was last year described as "outstanding" by watchdog Ofsted, but a review of the inspections has found they failed to get "underneath concerns".

Three Ofsted inspections since the tribunal's finding revealed serious concerns about safeguarding.

Last month it was announced that the school for children with special education needs was to close after only 82 pupils were registered for the new term.

The board of trustees said 90 children were needed for the school to be viable.

Head teacher Maggie McMurray said: "We've all tried our level best, more than our level best to make this work and well past the 11th hour, and it wasn't possible and we're just all terribly sad."

'Comprehensive review'

Hampshire Constabulary is examining its officers' handling of the pupil's allegations of rape.

The force said it thoroughly investigated the allegations but the Crown Prosecution Service decided not to prosecute.

It is conducting a "comprehensive review" into its handling of the case and is investigating sexual abuse claims by another girl.

Hampshire Police and Crime Commissioner Simon Hayes has also ordered a probe into the county's force after receiving a formal complaint about the investigation into the pupil's rape claim.

Mr Hayes's office said it would be "inappropriate" to reveal details but confirmed another force had been asked to investigate the allegations.

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