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The family of a teenage boy injured in a fall accident from a rock wall after a supervisory blunder could launch legal action against his school.
An unnamed pupil at Manningtree High School was chosen by teachers to be among four students to attempt the first ever lead climb at the establishment's rock wall.
Lead climbing is an advanced technique that involves clipping a rope to various points along an ascent and is considered to be very difficult.
Even though the youngster made it past three clipping points, he became tired - so a supervisor told him to fall back to the ground, as another pupil would hold his rope in a way that meant he descended slowly and safely.
However, the student in charge of the rope - known as a belayer - was inexperienced and accidentally let the teenager fall four metres to the ground.
The injured pupil, who is now 15, needed surgery on his foot after fracturing his heel bone and had to walk with crutches for 14 weeks. He is still recovering from the incident.
A subsequent Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigation found that none of the four pupils chosen to ascend the wall knew what a lead climb was and the instructor was not competent enough to teach or supervise them.
Additionally, an adequate safety management system was not put in place by teachers.
Manningtree High School pleaded guilty to a single health and safety breach, was fined £9,000 and ordered to pay £1,641 in costs for failing to identify the risk of pupils falling.
HSE inspector Glyn Davies said: "Inexperienced pupils receiving climbing instruction during PE lessons are completely reliant for their safety on the competence of their climbing instructor and the adequacy of the school's safety management system.
"Unfortunately in this case pupils were let down by Manningtree High School's failure to ensure the climbing activity was carried out safely and sadly this resulted in one pupil getting hurt."
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