Pupil Aged 14 Required Brain Surgery after Sports Accident

3 mins

Posted on 26 Mar 2015

The governors of a boys’ school in Tonbridge have been prosecuted after a 14-year-old pupil was severely injured when he was hit by a shot put thrown by another boy.

The incident happened during a routine multi-sport PE lesson at a school in Tonbridge. The pupil had left a triple jump area and was standing on the edge of the shot put landing zone to check a friend’s throw when he was struck on the back of his head by a shot.

The pupil suffered life-threatening injuries and needed emergency brain surgery on a fractured skull. He has now returned to school but his injury has resulted in a permanent indentation at the base of his skull.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigated and identified the school had not adopted measures in its own risk assessment and PE guidance on multi-event lessons had not been followed.

There were 24 boys in the lesson, divided into six groups and taking part in hurdles, long jump, triple jump, javelin, discus and shot put. It was a lesson format used regularly at the school and the pupils had participated in similar lessons in previous years.

The six sports were spread across the field but the end of the landing zone for the shot put was only about three metres from the end of the triple jump sand pit, where the 14-year-old was competing.

When the whistle blew to mark the end of the session, he left the triple jump and went to the shot put to see how far his friend had thrown. At the same time, another pupil was completing his throw, turning as he did so he was facing away from the zone.The shot hit the pupil on the back of the head, causing a severely fractured skull and internal swelling. He was in hospital for nearly a month but was able to return to school the following term.

HSE found the school had carried out a risk assessment for PE lessons. However, although it had referenced the guidance by the Association for Physical Education, it did not follow their recommendation that such lessons be restricted to a maximum of four sports with only one to be a throwing event.

The school’s inclusion of six sports with three throwing events had significantly increased the risks to pupils, as had the proximity of the triple jump pit to the shot put landing zone.

The Governing Body of the school was fined £10,000 and ordered to pay £1,375 in costs after admitting a breach of Section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974.


  • Ensure that a suitable and sufficient assessment of the risks that pupils are potentially exposed to are assessed and appropriate controls put in place

Guidance is available through the Association for Physical Education.

Doyle Clayton can support your school with providing health and safety advice, support and development of risk assessments. Please contact Sally Beck for further information.

The articles published on this website, current at the date of publication, are for reference purposes only. They do not constitute legal advice and should not be relied upon as such. Specific legal advice about your own circumstances should always be sought separately before taking any action.

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