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31 July 2013, 13:52
The schools watchdog has admitted failings in it's inspections of a Hampshire school where a girl claimed she was raped by other pupils.
Stanbridge Earls School near Romsey, for children with special educational needs, will close later this year, after being heavily criticised for its handling of the accusations.
A Special Educational Needs (SEN) and Disability Tribunal in January raised "grave concerns" about safeguarding there. It also found the school discriminated against the girl, who claimed she had been raped twice by other students, by excluding her following the allegation.
The chief inspector of schools, Sir Michael Wilshaw (pictured), said:
"Inspection is part of the safety net designed to protect children from harm and it is clear from our review of Ofsted’s involvement with Stanbridge Earls School that our inspections should have got underneath what was happening sooner. Our most recent inspections in January, March and June 2013 make clear Ofsted’s concerns, specifically regarding safeguarding, leadership and governance and what the school must do to improve.
"We offer our sincerest apologies to the parents and children who have been affected by historic events at Stanbridge Earls.
"We have learnt lessons from Stanbridge Earls that will make our systems, structures, processes and practices more effective.
"We cannot turn back the clock on what has happened at Stanbridge Earls School, but our actions show that when we get it wrong, we acknowledge our mistakes, take decisive action, and ensure that we use the learning to improve."