AN ACTION plan has been drawn up to prevent a repeat of the “appalling abuse” suffered by a vulnerable teenager at a special school in Hampshire.
Forced into action after a damning report into failures to protect the girl, who was groomed with explicit texts and sexually abused by a student, trustees at Stanbridge Earls School, Romsey, met for a crunch meeting to ensure the safety of all its pupils and vowed to personally apologise to the girl.
They have highlighted key areas where urgent changes will be made, including specialist training for staff, a detailed review into admissions policies and the appointment of an independent group that can order any extra steps necessary to restore confidence in the school.
As previously reported, the school was slammed for being “unsystematic, unprofessional, ad hoc and completely inadequate” when it came to protecting a female pupil.
A report by the Special Educational Needs and Disability Tribunal found that the school had discriminated against her and accused head teacher Peter Trythall of a “failure of responsibility”.
Concerns about the school also reached Westminster last week when schools minister Edward Timpson agreed to meet MP for Romsey and Southampton North Caroline Nokes to discuss the issue.
School bosses have spoken of their “deep regret” over the issue and called the emergency meeting so they could work with outside agencies to put right any shortcomings as soon as possible.
The six-point action plan will ensure that the school will be monitored as it implements the tribunal’s findings and will see Hampshire County Council child protection specialists help to review the school’s current safeguarding of pupils.
Tony Knight, chairman of the trustees, said: “The trustees are taking comprehensive and immediate action to ensure that safeguarding needs at the school are properly met.
“The tribunal’s requirements will be met as a matter of urgency, and independent advisers will be engaged to ensure the process of reform is transparent and benefits from a wide range of expertise.
“While the school has consistently been highly rated for its standards of education and safeguarding, this episode – a highly regrettable and unique case which does not reflect the way the school normally meets the needs of its pupils – shows there is always more that can be done.”