Tragedy of Gemma halted trips

1st October 2004 at 01:00
Cockburn high school in Leeds no longer runs overseas trips.

Five years ago Gemma Carter, a 13-year-old pupil at the school, drowned while on a trip to France.

Mark Duckworth, her supervising teacher, was found guilty of involuntary homicide by the French authorities but later cleared on appeal. A coroner's jury in Leeds returned a verdict of death by misadventure, and the school found Mr Duckworth had no case to answer in December 2003. The French teacher returned to the school in January.

Colin Richardson, headteacher, said: "The French department is not confident about doing another trip and that is fair enough.

"I can understand it, but it is a shame because these kinds of trips are hugely beneficial. But even with the strongest policies in place there is always the risk that something could happen."

The school still runs five week-long UK residential trips a year for pupils from Years 7 to 11.

Mr Richardson said: "The key is that trips must be well planned and well organised, with all bases covered. We have an apprenticeship scheme where younger teachers are sent away on trips with experienced teachers."

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