Probe as schoolgirl's hair catches fire

POLICE are investigating after a teenage girl's hair caught fire at a Suffolk school.

Lizzie Parry

POLICE are investigating after a teenage girl's hair caught fire at a Suffolk school.

Steffi Robson, 14, said two boys sprayed an aerosol deodorant on to her hair as she sat eating her lunch in a corridor at Leiston High School at about 12.30pm on Wednesday.

She said they then set it alight with a cigarette lighter - which students are banned from bringing on to the schools grounds.

The teenager said she was first realised that something had happened when she smelt the terrible stench of burning hair.

“I didn't feel anything, I didn't realise what had happened till the smell hit me,” she said.

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“The smell was awful; you can still smell my burning hair today where I was sat yesterday.”

Miss Robson's mother Catherine Steele said the incident had left her daughter and her friends traumatised.

“She is very emotional at the moment. As soon as she touches her hair you can see in her face how upset she is at what has happened,” Mrs Steele said.

“The first she knew of what was happening was when her friends were screaming 'your hair is on fire,' at her over and over again.

“She felt violated, she felt vulnerable, and it was very upsetting for her and her friends.

“Luckily enough she didn't have any hairspray on, if she had her whole head would have gone up, her hair is like straw at the back now.

“It was below shoulder length and now it isn't. At some points around two inches have been burnt off.”

Mrs Steele plans to lodge a formal complaint with the education authority against the school for what she believes has been an inadequate handling of the situation.

She claimed the school took two hours to contact her and believes they could have reached her earlier as she works as a learning support assistant at the nearby Saxmundham Middle School, a feeder school for Leiston High.

“I was phoned about one or two hours later at about 2.30pm. I work at the middle school in Saxmundham so they know me well and where I work, I believe they should have contacted me earlier.”

One of the boys believed to be involved has been suspension from school but Mrs Steele said she was shocked to discover the suspension was for two days.

“I don't think two days exclusion sends out a good message to other students,” she said. “She could have lost all her hair or have been scarred for life.”

A Suffolk police spokeswoman said: “Police have been contacted regarding this incident and will be investigating. Officers have been given the name of a 13-year-old boy who is believed to have been involved in the incident and further enquiries will be carried out to determine exactly what happened and if anyone else was involved.”

Nobody was available for comment at Leiston High School last night.