Family 'regrets' PE injury battle

12th November 2004 at 00:00
A mother who lost a legal battle against a primary school after her daughter broke her arm in a PE lesson has said she regrets that the case ever went to court.

Sandra Babbings said the dispute seemed to have escalated out of control, but blamed Honley junior school's silence about her daughter's accident for the breakdown in relations.

The family, who received legal aid to bring the case, said they believed no one rang to ask after Lauren because the Huddersfield school was afraid that it might be sued.

Mrs Babbings, an occupational health adviser, said: "I resented the way the school behaved towards us as it felt as if we had done something wrong. I always felt that they were afraid of being sued.

"I spent a lot of time supporting the school and all we wanted was one phone call to say, 'I'm really sorry about what happened; how is she getting on?'

"If they had, I would never, ever have gone this far."

Lauren, who was aged nine at the time of the accident, said: "I was in hospital for about a week and a half. I was upset that the school didn't ask me how I was, about my operation or ask when I was coming back."

She suffered several fractures to her arm when she fell after jumping from a springboard and trying to grab a bar six feet off the ground in a PE exercise.

Lauren, who is now 18 and a sports science student, had to have several operations to fix the bone and has two large scars on her arm. She suffers from arthritis and has had to stop playing several sports.

The family went to see solicitors two years after the accident, because they were frustrated by the school's silence.

Last month, the Court of Appeal upheld the decision of Huddersfield county court that staff had not breached their duty of care. Lord Justice Brooke said: "How boring life would be if there were no risk."

Stephen Price, headteacher at the school, said the family had been to see the class teacher after the accident, so staff were aware of Lauren's progress in hospital.

But that conversation was used against the school in court, he said, with the family claiming that the teacher had admitted the accident was his fault.

Mr Price said: "It's just like any private car insurer will say: never admit blame.

"Generally, it does make us more wary. We do express our concerns for children and we do care about them, but we feel we have to be careful not to say anything that can be construed as admitting blame."

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