The Charity Commission, the independent regulator of charities in England and Wales, has opened a statutory inquiry into Stanbridge Earls School Trust (registered charity number 307342). The charity is currently in administration.
The charity’s objects include the advancement of education by the provision and conduct of a day and/or boarding school for boys and girls.
On 2 October 2015, the commission was informed by Hampshire Safeguarding Children Board of the outcome of the serious case review regarding safeguarding of children at the school. The report was published by Hampshire Safeguarding Children Board on its website the same day.
A number of concerns were raised in the serious case review regarding the management and administration of the charity and its approach to the safeguarding of beneficiaries. These findings and concerns were added to the information already being considered by the commission under an existing assessment case, which opened in February 2015, and led to the opening of this statutory inquiry. This inquiry was opened on 6 October 2015. Although the charity is no longer operating and in administration, the commission considered it was nevertheless in the public interest to open an investigation.
The issues the inquiry will examine include whether:
- the trustees had sufficient oversight of the school’s management of safeguarding matters in order to discharge their legal duties and responsibilities as charity trustees
- the charity had adequate record-keeping procedures and practices, in particular prior to January 2013 and in relation to the recording and reporting of safeguarding concerns
The commission does not administer or regulate the implementation of legislation on safeguarding children and vulnerable adults. It cannot investigate specific safeguarding allegations. In the context of safeguarding issues, it has a limited and very specific regulatory role which is focused on the conduct and behaviour of the trustees and the protection of the charity and its beneficiaries. As in this case, its remit often covers just one area of much wider investigations involving or being led by other agencies.
The purpose of this inquiry is therefore not to re-examine specific allegations of abuse and/or safeguarding incidents. It is to examine and find whether the trustees fulfilled their legal duties and responsibilities as charity trustees in relation to the above concerns.
It is the commission’s policy, after it has concluded an inquiry, to publish a report detailing what issues the inquiry looked at, what actions were undertaken as part of the inquiry and what the outcomes were. Reports of previous inquiries are available on GOV.UK.
The charity’s details can be viewed on the commission’s online charity search tool.
Notes to editors
The Charity Commission is the independent registrar and regulator of charities in England and Wales, acting in the public’s interest, to ensure that:
- charities know what they have to do
- the public know what charities do
- charities are held to account
- Section 46 of the Charities Act 2011 gives the commission the power to institute inquiries. The opening of an inquiry gives the commission access to a range of investigative, protective and remedial legal powers. Section 76(3)(g) of the act is temporary and protective power available to the commission after an inquiry has been opened to appoint an Interim Manager. This role is supervised by the commission in accordance with section 78 of the act.
- The commission’s decision to announce the opening of a statutory inquiry is based on whether it is in the public interest to do so and with consideration of our objective to increase public trust and confidence in charities.