May 20, 2022

A school has been fined £ 30,000 for allowing students to climb a mountain without safety equipment despite a snowstorm warning.

All of the boys’ Orthodox Jewish School Gates Head Cheddar students were taken on a 6.5-mile trip to Halloween in Lake District in early March.


Gates has been fined £ 30,000 and ordered to pay costs.Credit: NCJMedia
A mountain rescue team had to be sent to rescue the school group


A mountain rescue team had to be sent to rescue the school groupCredit: NCJMedia

A court heard that some children were wearing school shoes or trainers and school pants or tracksuits to climb the 950-meter mountain.

The students had no climbing equipment, such as ropes, crimpons or ice axes, nor emergency safety equipment such as flashlights, compasses, mobile phones, buffet bags, tents or sheet blankets.

The group was overseen by two rabbis, a teacher and a teaching assistant, who were not qualified for mountaineering or outdoor activities, the Newcastle Magistrates’ Court heard.

During the descent of the mountain, the group deviated from the path, which was covered with snow, one boy slipped and fell 15 meters, while the other escaped on its own.

Mountain Rescue was contacted and a helicopter was called in to take the group to safety, as well as search for the missing student who had been missing for more than an hour.

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The school pleaded guilty to two counts of violating the Health and Safety Act of 1974 and was ordered to pay a 30,000 fine and £ 4,547 in costs. Chronicle Reports

District Judge Zoo Passfield said: “A group of children, dressed in inappropriate clothing, without safety equipment, were trekking over the ice line, led by staff without proper training, late in the background warning of serious consequences. With limited daylight due to onset. From the Weatherline report.

“There is no doubt that there was a risk of death due to slipping, falling from a height or hypothermia.

“There was a serious failure on the part of the school to properly assess the risk to its students and ensure their safety.”

The court heard that the school visit was scheduled for March 5, 2020, in which two rabbis were monitoring the trip and assessing the danger.

But the assessment was not properly implemented.

Lee Hughes, prosecutors, said the website Weatherline, a daily weather forecast made by top assessors for the Lake District, was checked the day before but issued a warning. Was ignored.

Weather warnings ignored.

The warning stated that the mountain was “cold” and that all clothing and equipment needed to “climb the ice” on all routes, including the easy route, which the group used.

It states: “As a result, slipping without restraint can have serious consequences. Snow-blurring marks combined with low clouds require excellent naval skills.”

Mr Hughes said some of the children were wearing school shoes or trainers and their school trousers or track suit bottoms.

The only safety equipment they had was a compass, a flashlight and a map on the rabbis’ mobile phones.

Mr Hughes said their ascent began an hour after they had planned, and they met two pedestrians who warned them not to go any further but were ignored and the couple was called “elderly men”. Was dismissed as “difficult time”.

They finally reached the peak around 4 pm and then started their descent.

The prosecutor said: “During the descent, they lost sight of the road, which was covered with snow, but continued anyway.

“They discussed going back to find a way, but it was feared they would run out of daylight.

“They decided to go ahead because they could see the signs they knew and in the meantime, the student slipped.”

Mountain rescue team dispatched.

The Keswick Mountain rescue team was notified of the incident at 5.30pm, the court heard, and that a boy had escaped and was missing.

The rescue team, which included a helicopter and dogs, found the group and the boy just over an hour later.

Mr Hughes said: “By this time, the temperature was below zero and the group was 200 meters above the ice line.

“The team managed to get the group down safely and they cut down the stairs in the ground for the boys to walk on.

“They brought each boy individually for safety. It took about 20 to 30 minutes.”

Mr Hughes added: “The risk of an accident was fully considered and steps could have been taken to prevent it.”

The court heard that the school considered the group’s “easy route” to be a walk rather than a mountaineering exercise.

The school told the boys to wear appropriate shoes and clothes but did not tell their parents.

Defending, Peter Smith said: “The director wants to say in open court that he is deeply saddened by what happened on March 5, and especially about the injury of one of his 10-year-old students.

“Thankfully, he came back to school the next day.”

Mr Smith added: “This is not a case where they have not tried to deal with the threat. This is an opportunity where some planning has been done.

“A threat has been identified but not acted upon.”

The court heard that Gates Head Chaders Limited had no convictions in the past and had cooperated in health and safety investigations.

The school said it apologized in court for the incident on the mountain.


The school said it apologized in court for the incident on the mountain.Credit: NCJMedia

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