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The Judd School in Brook Street, Tonbridge, fined £10,000 after a prosecution by the Health and Safety Executive

A school has been fined £10,000 after a pupil almost died when he was hit by a shotput.

The teenager, who cannot be named for legal reasons, was hit in the back of the head during a PE lesson at the Judd School in Brook Street, Tonbridge, in June last year.

The school's governors pleaded guilty to breaching their responsibilties to ensure pupils were safe at Sevenoaks Magistrates' Court this morning.

The Judd School
The Judd School

The school was prosecuted by the Health and Safety Executive.

Kevin Golding, who was prosecuting, told the court the accident took place during a track and field PE lesson consisting of shot put, javelin, discus, hurdles, long jump and triple jump.

He quoted a series of regulations stating that only four events should have been running and of these, only one should have involved throwing.

Pupils were split into groups to take part in each activity.

The accident happened at the Judd School
The accident happened at the Judd School

The victim had just finished a triple jump when the teacher's whistle blew. He went over to classmates in the shot put event, which was about three metres away, to compare scores.

It was at this point that he was hit in the back of the head by a classmate, who was making his final throw and using a different technique to the one he normally used.

The blow severely fractured his skull and caused internal swelling. He was in hospital for nearly a month but was able to return to school the following term.

The court heard the teenager is no longer able to take part in some contact sports and may suffer longer-term issues.

Dominic Adamson, who was representing the school, argued that the school had undertaken risk assessments and that this was a freak event.

He said the school had taken measures to protect pupils, such as not allowing shotputs to be thrown onto the running track.

He also quoted statements from three pupils who all said they had been told how to safely use the equipment.

Mr Adamson added that the school had made changes and no longer ran more than one throwing event at once and only teaches four track and field events at a time.

Magistrate Nick Bensted-Smith took into account the early guilty plea and imposed a £10,000 fine.

The school must also pay £1,375 in costs and a £20 victim surcharge.

Sevenoaks Magistrates' Court. Stock picture.
Sevenoaks Magistrates' Court. Stock picture.

After the hearing, HSE inspector Mr Golding said: “By not adopting the measures identified in their own risk assessment, The Judd School put pupils at serious risk leading to a boy being struck by a shot put and suffering life-threatening injuries.

"It was a horrifying incident for him and his family and, of course, the rest of the pupils and the school itself.

“While he is thankfully back at school, he will have to live with the consequences of the incident for the rest of his life.

“It is vitally important that schools review their risk assessments for all PE lessons, but in particular for multi-sports lessons, to check that they are safe.”

Head master Robert Masters said: “The Judd School expresses its deepest regret over the serious accident which took place in a PE lesson on 20 June 2014, when a student was hit on the head by a shot put thrown by another student. It is a relief to all that the injured student has been attending school full-time since September.

“The Judd School accepts the verdict of the Magistrates’ Court today that it has breached the Health & Safety at Work Act.

"It was a horrifying incident for him and his family and, of course, the rest of the pupils and the school itself..." - HSE inspector Kevin Golding

"In particular the School’s organisation of the PE lesson in which the incident occurred did not fully comply with the guidance of the Association for Physical Education.

“The Judd School provides an extensive programme of PE, Games and competitive sport, enjoying a national reputation in rugby, cross-country and athletics having won National Schools’ trophies in each in recent years.

“The safety record is exceptionally good; however this incident has led to a major review of safety by staff and governors.

“We have re-examined all our safety procedures in PE and are in the process of doing the same across the whole school.

We have also shared the lessons from this incident with other secondary schools.

"Whilst accepting that we cannot eliminate accidents altogether, we are as confident as we can be that a similar accident will not happen again in future.”

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