Tragic litany of holiday disasters

20th October 2000 at 01:00
August 2000, crash in France

Craig Norsworthy, 15, from Edinburgh, was killed when a coach carrying 38 youngsters careered off a road near Paris last August.

The driver, Adrian McDonald, was charged with involuntary manslaughter after allegedly falling asleep at the wheel.

1997, Alpine coach crash

Three children on a school trip to France were killed when their coach left a road near Albertville in the French Alps. Nichola Moore, 16, Robert Boardman, 14, and Keith Ridding, 14, were in a party of 16 pupils from St James high school in Bolton, Lancashire.

1996, rape and murder

Caroline Dickinson, a 13-year-old pupil at Launceston College in Cornwall, was raped and murdered in a Brittany youth hostel.

In 1999, her mother, Sue Dickinson, lost a claim for damages against Cornwall County Council after a court dismissed her case that teachers on the trip should have done more to protect her daughter.

1993, Lyme Bay drownings

Four teenagers lost their lives in 1993 when a school canoe trip off Lyme Regis, Dorset, went tragically wrong on March 22. A party of 23 children from Southway comprehensive in Plymouth was on an excursion to St Albans adventure training centre when the group was split up and blown out to sea.

The managing director of Active Learning and Leisure, Peter Kite, was jailed for three years for manslaughter. The company itself was convicted of corporate manslaughter and fined pound;60,000.

John Patten, education secretary at the time, introduced a four-point plan, which included a survey of activity centres, followed by Health and Safety Executive inspections, guidance for schools and councils, and changes in schools' governing articles to make explicit the legal duty of care concerning health and safety. The regulation was enshrined in the Activity Centres Act 1995. The Act requires all providers of "high risk" adventurous activities for young pople under 18, whether for educational purposes or for activity holidays, to apply for a licence to run a commercial operation which is open to inspection.

1993, crash on the M40

A motorway accident which claimed the lives of 12 schoolchildren and a teacher from Hagley Roman Catholic high school in Stourbridge led to changes in

minibus regulations.

Seat belts were made compulsory on all school transport vehicles. Also, those who get their driving licence after January 1997 must take a special minibus test in order to drive one carrying schoolchildren.

"However, there is an exemption for volunteer drivers and it is currently not clear whether teachers driving on out-of-hours trips are covered," said Kevin Clinton, Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents spokesman. There are still no regulations concerning the time teachers spend driving.

1988, Alpine fall in Austria

Four British teenagers from Altwood Church of England secondary school in Maidenhead, Berkshire, fell more than 250ft to their deaths while on a school trip in the Austrian Alps.

That year, new guidelines to safeguard pupils on school trips were issued by the National Association of Head Teachers and a revised version of the Department for Education and Employment booklet, Safety in Outdoor Pursuits, was issued.

1985, drownings at Land's End

Four boys from Stoke Poges middle school, Buckinghamshire, drowned during a school trip to Land's End when they were swept out to sea while exploring rocks.

Alec Askew, the headteacher, resigned after the tragedy.

An inquiry into the accident was highly critical of party leader Mr Askew and teacher, Robert Harrington, who also resigned.

The inquiry made 22 proposals for organising future trips. New safety guidelines from the National Association of Head Teachers were widely adopted by education authorities after the tragedy.

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