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HEADTEACHER FACES HUGE FINE FOR PUPIL FALL

Merseyside head prosecuted after pupil injured in rooflight fall 

A Merseyside headteacher has been fined £20,000 after one of his students suffered permanent injuries when he fell through the school roof. He was found guilty of a health and safety offence following a trial at Liverpool Crown Court.

HSE prosecuted John Summerfield, 63, after he led a group of teenagers onto a roof at Sacred Heart Catholic College on Liverpool Road in Crosby.  The court heard that Mr Summerfield had taken the group of students onto the roof on 14 August 2008 on the day of their A Level results.

One of the 18-year-old students fractured his skull, broke his ribs, perforated an eardrum and suffered permanent damage to his right eye when he fell 2.5 metres through a roof light.

Head should have thought about possible consequences

Mr Summerfield, of Moorland Avenue in Crosby, was found guilty of breaching Section 7(a) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 by failing to protect the safety of his students when he decided to allow them onto the roof. He was ordered to pay £22,708 towards the cost of the prosecution, in addition to the fine, on 29 October 2010.

Mike Sebastian, HSE Principal Inspector in Merseyside, said:

“John Summerfield wanted to show his students a part of the school they had never seen but it left one of them suffering a permanent injury to his eye.

The roof was kept out of bounds for a reason. As the headteacher, Mr Summerfield should have thought about the possible consequences before deciding to take them through two locked doors onto the roof.

Students should expect to be in a safe environment when they’re at school and look to their teachers for guidance on what is and what isn’t safe. Sadly, a pupil suffered serious injuries because of the poor judgement of his headteacher, and is unlikely to ever fully recover.”

Falls from height are the biggest single cause of workplace deaths in the UK. During 2008/9, 112 workers in Merseyside suffered major injuries from a fall and another 174 had to take at least three days off to recover.

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