Ofsted disciplines its staff over bungled inspection at Stanbridge Earls School

Stanbridge Earls School

Stanbridge Earls School

First published in News Daily Echo: Photograph of the Author by , Senior Reporter

OFSTED bosses have taken disciplinary action against some of its staff after admitting mistakes were made while investigating a troubled Hampshire special school.

The school inspection body had classified the £39,000-a-year Stanbridge Earls school in Romsey, as “outstanding”.

But this was followed by a Special Educational Needs (SEN) and Disability Tribunal, which found earlier this year that the 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.

As previously reported, the tribunal found that a vulnerable youngster had suffered “appalling abuse” at the hands of another student, while the school was slammed by panel members for being “unsystematic, unprofessional, ad hoc and completely inadequate” when it came to protecting the youngster, who cannot be named for legal reasons.

Now Ofsted has taken disciplinary action against some of the staff involved in their investigation of the school.

An internal inquiry is said to have made 20 recommendations for change at the body, including a new IT system to link complaints from whistleblowers and parents.

The organisation has since made a number of emergency inspections at the school highlighting the need for more improvements to be made.

Detectives from Hampshire police’s public protection department are currently examining whether “further criminal offences” have been committed against other youngsters who have attended the school.

Previous head Peter Trythall stood down in April after being accused of “a failure of responsibility”.

He has been replaced by Maggie McMurray, who will now lead the school as police continue their investigation.

Among others who have stepped down are chairman of governors Tony Knight and fellow governor Claire Marsden. They cited personal reasons for leaving.

A group of parents has formed in the wake of the damning tribunal with the aim of keeping the school open, claiming that closure would have a devastating impact on their vulnerable children.

An Ofsted spokesperson said: “We have carried out a review of the inspection history of the school from 2011. It is clear that our inspections could have got underneath what was happening sooner.

"Our most recent inspections in January and April 2013 set out Ofsted’s concerns, specifically regarding safeguarding, leadership and governance and what the school must do to improve.”

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