Holbrook: School rapped for safety failings

A SUFFOLK boarding school has been rapped for safety failings after a pupil fractured her spine in a climbing accident.

The 15-year-old girl was taking part in a PE class at The Royal Hospital School, Holbrook, when she plunged six metres onto a wooden gymnasium floor.

The teenager’s injuries were such she was hospitalised for two weeks and had to wear a body cast for several weeks to aid her recovery.

The boarding school, which is owned by the Ministry of Defence (MoD), accepted a Crown Censure after a probe by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).

A censure is the maximum penalty the HSE can mete out as the MoD, as a Crown body, enjoys immunity from prosecution.

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The school admitted its risk assessments, procedures and inspection and maintenance regimes for the climbing equipment was insufficient. Accepting the censure on behalf of the MoD it added climbing wall supervisors had not received refresher training.

Heather Bryant, HSE’s divisional director and crown censure chairwoman, said: “HSE recognises that climbing walls can play an important part in the education of young people - and encourages schools to provide them - but it is essential that they follow industry guidance to ensure that pupils are not exposed to unnecessary risks.

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“I am pleased that the school will be resuming the climbing wall activity in due course once the necessary precautions are in place.”

The incident happened on March 3, 2009, during a PE class involving a dozen pupils. The 15-year-old fell six metres in an uncontrolled descent from the top of the wall.

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