Chelfham Mill School, Barnstaple

Chelfham Mill School, Barnstaple

A school at the centre of an inquiry into physical abuse of pupils has given up its licence to operate.

Chelfham Mill, near Barnstaple, Devon, was due to reopen later for the start of the new school year.

But, the private residential school has decided not re-open. A six-week licence suspension was put in place by regulator Ofsted.

The school, which has not commented, cared for 41 boys aged seven to 18 with emotional and behavioural problems.

Schools regulator Ofsted says the head teacher has voluntarily given up Chelfham Mill’s registration, its formal status as a school, which employs about 40 staff.

‘Alternative arrangements’

Police sources have told the BBC their investigation into the allegations of abuse is expected to take several months.

“We can confirm that the suspension of the children’s home registration remains in place,” said Ofsted.

“As is normal procedure, Ofsted will review the circumstances around the case before any further decision is made.”

The Department for Education confirmed the school had been removed from the register of independent schools.

“As a result, [it] is no longer able to operate,” said a spokesperson. “Alternative arrangements have been made for all the children.

“We will not hesitate to take action against any school where we believe there may be a risk to children.”

A Devon County Council spokesman said: “I can confirm we have been informed by the DfE that the school has voluntarily de-registered as an independent school.

“We are already in discussions with other schools to ensure that all 14 boys (in our care) have suitable alternative places.”

BBC 02/09/15

Police investigate abuse claims ITV News 20/07/15