Hampshire & Isle of Wight

Stanbridge Earls School extends enrolment deadline

Stanbridge Earls School
Image caption The school said it will close if fewer than 90 pupils were enrolled for the autumn term

A school criticised for its handling of a pupil's rape claim has extended its deadline for parents to register for next term, in a bid to avoid closure.

The board of trustees said 82 children had so far been enrolled for September.

But it said a minimum of 90 were needed "to be viable for next term in financial and educational terms".

A proposed takeover of Stanbridge Earls School, near Romsey, Hampshire, recently fell through amid concerns over pupil numbers next term.

Parents have now been given until Friday, 16 August, to pay their fees - a day longer than the original deadline.

Stanbridge Earls, which caters for children with special educational needs, had 189 registered students in June.

'Critical decision'

But head teacher Maggie McMurray has said she expected numbers at the £40,000-a-year school to be lower next term.

If too few children are enrolled, the school has said it will be forced to close and fees will be refunded.

In a letter to parents, the board of trustees, said: "We hope very much that those of you who are undecided, or who have not yet replied, will be able to give us a clear indication of your response now as you can see how critical your decision is."

Stanbridge Earls is under scrutiny from the Department for Education, which gave it until the end of the month to present an "action plan" after recent findings by Ofsted.

Last year Ofsted said the school was "outstanding", but a review of the inspections has found they failed to get "underneath concerns".

Raped twice

A tribunal in January found the school, which caters for pupils aged 10 to 19, had failed to protect a "vulnerable" pupil.

Her parents started legal action on discrimination grounds after she was excluded, following her claim she had been raped twice by fellow students.

The tribunal heard the school believed she had consented and excluded her for breaking rules by having sex on its grounds.

Three Ofsted inspections since the tribunal's findings revealed serious concerns about safeguarding.

Hampshire Constabulary said it thoroughly investigated the rape allegation but the Crown Prosecution Service decided not to prosecute.

The force has since started a "comprehensive review" into its handling of the case and is investigating sexual abuse claims by another girl.

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