School damned after teenager sexually abused by student

Stanbridge Earls School near Romsey

Stanbridge Earls School near Romsey

by Julian Robinson , Eastleigh Chief Reporter Updated on in

A VULNERABLE teenager was groomed with explicit texts and sexually abused by a student, according to a damning report into failures at a special needs school in Hampshire.

Systems in place at Stanbridge Earls School, which should have protected the girl, have been slammed as “unsystematic, unprofessional, ad hoc and completely inadequate”.

Staff failed to tell the youngster’s parents that she had complained of pain “down below” and the school was found to have discriminated against her.

Head teacher Peter Trythall has been accused of “a failure of responsibility” while the Nursing and Midwifery Council has confirmed that the school nurse Melanie Bavington is under investigation.

A number of other staff members were named and criticised in the explosive report, which was drawn up following a Special Educational Needs and Disability Tribunal.

The school has now spoken of its “deep regret” over the issue.

But the Secretary of State for Education has been asked to consider whether the school’s registration is still justified while the parents may now take further action against those they say have failed their daughter.

The hard-hitting report reveals how “warning signals” about the youngster’s sexual and emotional vulnerability were not acted on properly.

And the tribunal’s panel has raised “grave concerns about the management, multi professional relationships and communication, educational provision and safeguarding” of pupils at the independent school, near Romsey.

Lawyers representing the family have urged Ofsted to reconsider its most recent inspection findings which ruled that the school was “outstanding” in all categories.

The report describes how the girl went to school staff and it became clear she had been involved in a sexual encounter.

But although the school’s doctor and some members of staff were informed, none of them told the parents.

Her mother and father only found out when she told them at a later date that the sex was “non-consensual”.

Hampshire Social Services was informed and they referred the matter to police.

They investigated and passed a file to the Crown Prosecution Service, which decided not to proceed against two boys because it was not "in the public interest".

The girl's parents are appealing that decision.

The report states how neither the head teacher, deputy head teacher, head of care, nurse or school doctor felt it necessary to organise a strategy meeting to come up with a plan for the youngster.

“This lack of effective coordinated response compounded the errors relating to (the girl’s) care and protection,” the report found.

“A lack of knowledge is claimed by the responsible body as a defence, yet in evidence it is clear that different parts of the organisation had had considerable knowledge about (the girl’s) needs and events as they unfolded, but this was not shared in an effective way.”

The report added: “This failure led to a vulnerable child being taken advantage of by peers.”

Mr Trythall was accused of a “failure or responsibility” when, in an earlier incident, the girl informed him that she had talked of taking her own life.

Despite talking to her and being satisfied she had had no suicidal intent, the report said how “he made no record. He sought no advice. The parents were not informed.”

The school, which caters for young people with learning difficulties, has been ordered to apologise.

The family’s solicitor, Melinda Nettleton, from legal firm SENlegal, called the case “deeply disturbing and troubling” adding that the parents may take legal action against individuals named in the report.

She also called for the Secretary of State for Education to suspend the school’s registration “until it is evident that pupils’ safety is secured”.

She added: “The conduct, the safeguarding failure, the discrimination and the credibility of Mr Trythall and his staff are laid bare in this decision.

“(The girl’s) parents have shown, in my view, enormous courage and dignity during what has been a distressing process to obtain the truth, so they can eventually achieve justice for their disabled daughter and for other children like her.

“They also hope, by publishing the decision, that other victims of sexual abuse and/or their parents which has occurred in schools have the courage to step forward.”

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8:48pm Mon 21 Jan 13 Stillness says…

Bewise2012 wrote…

The school has never been good when it comes to headmasters, the only one that was good was "Geff link", most of the good teacher have left, that why school renunions are non exsistant. There has been loads of problems before at the school, teachers bullying pupils, a few people trying to commit sucide and one did which some of the newpaper story isnt quite true. The school had always put the word out when ofsted is about and you would aways see the teacher running around. Theres much more to the school that was always kept a secret! This is a school that the richest of people use to go to and even royalty now look at it. I feel so sorry for this girl and the family, i hope that they get somewere with the courts!

Yeah it seems that "getting somewhere with the courts" makes everything better more and more often.

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10:12pm Mon 21 Jan 13 Britbites says…

http://www.senlegal. ress%20Release.pdf http://www.senlegal. ENDT%20Decision%20-% 20redacted.pdf I would advise people to read these first before commenting. What the poor girl went through was appalling. The head teacher saying NON-CONSENSUAL SEX wasn't rape???? The medical evidence speaks for itself.

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11:16pm Mon 21 Jan 13 Mary80 says…

Any person that takes advantage of a disabled person is evil scum the school are no better for not doing a **** thing to protect her.

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11:24pm Mon 21 Jan 13 Stillness says…

Mary80 wrote…

Any person that takes advantage of a disabled person is evil scum the school are no better for not doing a **** thing to protect her.

So the school are no better? I wonder how many hard working conciseness people you have just managed to alienate with your big tar brush?

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11:49pm Mon 21 Jan 13 Mary80 says…

I have Aspergers i WOULD hold the school as bad for failing to protect a vunerable person,...did you not read the reports? They did NOTHING when presented with the evidence so yes they ARE also as bad

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9:24am Tue 22 Jan 13 bemused26 says…

Ollie73 wrote…

I was a student of Stanbridge for five years. Throughout those years I had some of the best times of my life with some of the nicest people you will ever meet. I was diagnosed with Dyslexia when I was 8 and had a hard time studying and doing exams. If it wasn't for Stanbridge I certainly wouldn't be where I am now and I wouldn't have the sort of understanding and perspective that I acquired over the five years. Now the Headmasters haven't been the best but the most recent, Mr P. Trythall was by far the best. He turned the school from being a mediocre center for students with learning disability's to bar far and away the best within the United Kingdom. I'm not asking for praise for those in question, but I am asking for a fair evaluation of the actions taken, and the understanding that I was a pupil under the care of Mr Trythall and he deserves much more credit that anyone outside of the school could ever give. This case may be closed now but anyone who reads my comment should know, that the school is nothing like how it is being portrayed, and this case would barely stand on it's own two feet if the girl in questions where to tell the correct story from the start.

This is taken directly from the press release from SENLegal that Britbites kindly posted: "We were truly astounded to hear evidence from the head teacher, Mr Peter Trythall, who maintained throughout his evidence that non-consensual sex was not rape, and that when allegedly told of that rape, went on holiday to Cornwall, leaving the matter to be dealt with by a junior member of staff. The fact Mrs Callender advised Safeguarding agencies and the Tribunal that she did not understand why she needed to make a referral of an allegation of rape to agencies, and only did so because we insisted, is a staggering admission." I don't think he deserves any more credit after reading this. How can someone say they didn't know that non consensual sex is rape? What an absolute clown. And the fact that the person responsible for 'safeguarding' vulnerable pupils didn't see why she should report a rape is absurd. These members of staff should be thoroughly ashamed of themselves. By the way, if you copy that link to the press release (findings of the tribunal), there are a couple of spaces in the address that you need to remove to get it to work. It is a shocking read but worth it to get a fuller picture.

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10:51am Tue 22 Jan 13 Stillness says…

Mary80 wrote…

I have Aspergers i WOULD hold the school as bad for failing to protect a vunerable person,...did you not read the reports? They did NOTHING when presented with the evidence so yes they ARE also as bad

Strange how the first thing you mention is that you have Aspergers. Is that meant to indicate that your view is more relevant than us poor souls that don't have Aspergers? Perhaps you are trying to tell the world that it makes you special, or is it just that you use it because it helps you to identify who you are? No mater how hard any society tries to protect its members, be that in a school, work place or the society that we all live in there will be occasions when some deviant (also a member of that society least we forget) will try to, and on occasion succeed in hurting another. Yes as a society we have a duty to try to protect those who need protecting but to suggest that the society is as to blame as the perpetrator of the attack is the ramblings of someone who has passed the task of being responsible for themselves to the society that they live in. The individual who committed the attack should be punished to the full extent of the law. The school should be made to improve its systems. Any money won in court should be used to (try) and make sure that the same thing does not happen in the future. Punishing the school will not improve it.

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1:30pm Tue 22 Jan 13 Bewise2012 says…

The school do need some sort of kick up the arse! This is the third time something like this has happened at the school, but the ofsted report always says excelent. I was there for quit a few years and iv see a few things but all i was told was " if i told anyone i would get expeled", i ended up leaving because my perant pulled me out after my gcse's.

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7:48pm Wed 23 Jan 13 ubaidu says…

i was at stanbridge earls school for seven years and in those years i gained things beyond my wildest imagination such as friends that i can rely on twenty or thirty years down the line, role models in teachers that i would still and will always go to for advice, memories that will last me a lifetime and that very few will ever have the privilege of experiencing. In my time at stanbridge my time at stanbridge many things came possible that i never thought would happen such as obtain good GCSEs and A-levels so that i could attend a good university and every dream was supported no matter how outlandish. i came from abroad and stanbridge made me feel so comfortable it was and is like a second home to me. In short without stanbidge i would still be that 11 year old boy who thought he was stupid and that ever becoming successful was nothing better than a fairy tale it would seriously pain me if others did not get the opportunity i did

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11:02pm Wed 23 Jan 13 heartsforlove says…

I atttended Stanbridge for over three years. And felt a great spirit of friendship and patience there. The staff were great role models , The headmaster was excellent and this matter may or may not have happened as described. Anything is possible, but it can not become a reflection on a school that goes out of its way to take on the challenges other schools are not ready to do. I got great academic training there as well as memories . This story is well out of proportion to the role of the school and the supporters who are so satisfied with the benefits that they gratefully gained. To even try to threaten the school is absurd. We may never know the true details of management over this matter but this news or half news item appears to be extraordinarily one sided. Newspapers should not attack first without gaining a full account from both sides . Most of what i read was from one side .. Its that simple. Nick Hodgson

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