Headteacher hit with massive fine

A Merseyside headteacher has been fined £20,000 after one of his students fell through the school roof suffering permanent injuries

During a trial the court heard that John Summerfield, 65, took a group of "slightly inebriated'' sixth-formers on to the roof of Sacred Heart Catholic College in Crosby, Merseyside when an 18 year old fell through a skylight into a corridor and fractured his skull.

He was found guilty of a health and safety offence following a trial at Liverpool Crown Court.  The court heard that Mr Summerfield had taken the group onto the roof on 14 August 2008 on the day of their A Level results.

The 18-year-old student fractured his skull, broke his ribs, perforated an eardrum and suffered permanent damage to his right eye.

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."