Hampshire & Isle of Wight

Stanbridge Earls School trustee actions 'satisfactory'

Stanbridge Earls School
Image caption Stanbridge Earls School has since closed

An inquiry into the role of trustees at a Hampshire school charity has found they acted properly in the wake of a pupil's allegation of rape.

The allegation triggered a number of inspections at Stanbridge Earls School for children with special needs, near Romsey, which has now closed.

It was criticised for excluding the pupil after her rape claim.

The Charity Commission concluded trustees "made reasonable decisions" in managing the school's charity.

Insufficient pupil numbers

The school trust, set up in 1964, provided boarding and day education for boys and girls aged 10 to 19 with special educational needs.

In January 2013, it was accused of failing to protect a pupil who claimed to have been raped twice by fellow students.

An education tribunal found the school discriminated against the pupil by excluding her.

An unannounced Ofsted inspection in February 2013 uncovered serious care failings, and the Department for Education (DfE) rejected an action plan drawn up by the school.

The commission's inquiry looked at how trustees handled the overall administration, governance and management of the charity, including how they responded to issues raised by Ofsted and the DfE.

The inquiry report found the trustees' actions were "satisfactory".

The way the school handled the sexual abuse allegations was a separate matter not within the remit of the commission.

The trust is currently in administration.

The school announced it would close after an "insufficient" number of pupils were registered for the following term.

The report highlighted that, while trustees were working towards improving child safeguarding, 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.

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