PARENTS have formed a campaign group to back a special school at the centre of sex abuse claims.

A major police investigation is under way over allegations made by two former students at Stanbridge Earls School in Romsey. The Charity Commission has also launched an inquiry.

Education bosses have threatened to close the facility if urgent improvements are not made before its next inspection.

But now a group of 30 parents are pleading for the school to stay open – for the sake of their children.

One mum, Helen Owen, whose son has Asperger’s syndrome, told the Daily Echo: “People will have no idea how hard I fought to get my son in to Stanbridge.

“The school, our children and their families are patiently awaiting proper investigations to take place and so far have maintained a dignified stance, resisting the temptation to rebut allegations via the media and to allow the Police, Ofsted and Hampshire County Council to do their work.

“These children have succeeded here where they have failed elsewhere and the reality for them and their families is that this is a school which is making, and has made, a huge difference to the outcomes and their prospects in adult life.

“They now have the fear of God in them that the school could be about to close. The children and parents are terrified.”

Graham Hartley, whose autistic 16-year-old son was not at the school when the offences are alleged to have happened, said: “Although he has only been there a short time I know he would be devastated were the school to close and finding a comparable school that meets his needs to the extent that Stanbridge Earls does would be next to impossible.

“We chose Stanbridge Earls for our son because we thought it would provide him with a safe and secure environment in which, with specialist help and support, he would be best able to fulfil his potential.

“We have not been disappointed as he has made very significant progress and we hope he will be allowed to continue to do so.”

Other parents have contacted the Daily Echo with similar concerns.

A Special Educational Needs and Disability Tribunal found earlier this year that a vulnerable girl had suffered “appalling abuse” at the hands of another student while at the school.

Detectives from Hampshire police’s public protection department are examining whether “further criminal offences” have been committed against other youngsters at the school. This includes allegations of sexual abuse of a second girl between September and December 2010.

Meanwhile the Charity Commission has launched an inquiry amid “serious concerns”

about the way the initial allegations were handled by staff.

Romsey and Southampton North MP Caroline Nokes has called for “a period of calm” so children can concentrate on their exams.

“Those children have had to work phenomenally hard to be in a position to sit their exams and for their sake I think there needs to be a period of stability,” she said.

“Obviously the safeguarding of those children is an absolutely essential priority.

“I know the school are taking the situation very seriously and they are working alongside a number of agencies and the DfE to make sure their action plan can be accepted.”

School bosses have vowed to carry out a robust set of improvements.