Western Daily Press - - Front Page - JANET HUGHES [email protected]­plc.com

ASIX-YEAR-OLD boy had his front teeth knocked out with a ham­mer as pupils took part in a les­son de­signed to give young chil­dren hands-on learn­ing ex­pe­ri­ences of the great out­doors.

Ri­ley Mered­ith-Mor­gan was hit in the face when a ham­mer was al­legedly thrown dur­ing a for­est school les­son.

His mother, Su­san, is an­gry be­cause she does not be­lieve any­body has been dis­ci­plined over the in­ci­dent, which hap­pened at Sev­ern­banks Pri­mary School, in Lyd­ney, on Novem­ber 22.

And she de­cided to speak out after be­ing told a re­view con­cluded the in­ci­dent that left Ri­ley strug­gling to eat, drink and talk was an ac­ci­dent.

The school had re­ferred the in­ci­dent to ex­ter­nal health and safety con­sul­tants and said it has since taken “ap­pro­pri­ate ac­tion”.

Su­san says she was shocked when she first saw Ri­ley after re­ceiv­ing a mes­sage to say he had been in­jured dur­ing for­est school – a les­son where pri­mary chil­dren learn about the nat­u­ral wood­land en­vi­ron­ment.

“When I got to the school he was still in shock,” she said. “My six-year-old boy had been hit in the mouth with a ham­mer and had his front teeth knocked out.

“It broke my heart to see him. He had to have time off school be­cause of the se­vere dis­com­fort and he couldn’t eat or drink with­out a straw.

“The in­jury it­self is heal­ing now, but it’s not just the phys­i­cal dam­age.

“I had to fight with him to get him back to school and I feel sick to my stom­ach ev­ery sec­ond he is there.”

Such schools are pop­u­lar be­cause it is thought that be­ing around trees and learn­ing prac­ti­cal skills like mak­ing a camp fire ben­e­fit chil­dren’s ed­u­ca­tion.

The ex­act cir­cum­stances of the ac­ci­dent are un­clear, but Su­san says it hap­pened after a group of six-year-old boys were given a safety talk be­fore go­ing into a shed con­tain­ing numer­ous tools, in­clud­ing a ham­mer.

She says her den­tist told her the ham­mer must have hit Ri­ley in the face with some force to have knocked his teeth out.

The fol­low­ing day, she was told the other child in­volved had been ex­cluded for the rest of the day.

The pupil then had to spend the fol­low­ing day in iso­la­tion.

But after be­ing as­sured there would be an in­ves­ti­ga­tion, dur­ing which no­body asked Ri­ley what had hap­pened, she was an­gry to find out the re­sults of the health and safety re­port to gover­nors.

“The pun­ish­ment for the child is not my is­sue,” she said.

She claimed the ac­ci­dent should not have hap­pened and ques­tioned how well the chil­dren were be­ing su­per­vised.

Su­san says she does not want to take the “easy op­tion” of re­mov­ing her three chil­dren from the school, which is rated “good” by Of­sted.

She says she will carry on fight­ing un­til some­body is brought to book for the ac­ci­dent, which could have left Ri­ley need­ing false teeth at the age of six.

She says a den­tal X-ray has re­vealed an­other of teeth, but Ri­ley will have to wait to find out if they come through as ex­pected.

In the mean­time, she said the or­deal had put him off school and he would not be able to smile for the cam­era at Christ­mas.

“He’s do­ing a lot bet­ter now, but it’s not just the phys­i­cal side, it’s the trauma,” said Su­san.

“I left it over a week to see what they came back with and to see if I would have a writ­ten apol­ogy, but noth­ing, so they have left me with no choice but to let peo­ple know what hap­pened. I want jus­tice for my boy.”

Rod John­son, chair­man of the gover­nors at Sev­ern­banks, said the health and safety of pupils had al­ways been para­mount at the school and would con­tinue to be so.

“The re­cent Of­sted re­port ac­knowl­edges that the school places pupils’ well­be­ing and safety at the heart of all it does,” he said in a state­ment.

“The in­ci­dent re­ferred to hap­pened

It broke my heart to see him. He had to have time off school be­cause of the se­vere dis­com­fort


dur­ing an out­door for­est school ses­sion where chil­dren may use a va­ri­ety of tools.

“The head­teacher del­e­gated the re­spon­si­bil­ity to the deputy head to in­ves­ti­gate this mat­ter to en­sure it was dealt with im­par­tially and so there could be no in­fer­ence of bias or prej­u­dice.

“The school has fol­lowed its nor­mal poli­cies and pro­ce­dures.

“An in­ves­ti­ga­tion has been un­der­taken of the in­ci­dent, in­clud­ing risk as­sess­ments and in­ter­views with all par­ties in­volved.

“When an in­ci­dent like this oc­curs, the school refers the in­ci­dent to ex­ter­nal health and safety con­sul­tants. They have con­sid­ered all the ev­i­dence and it is their view that this was an ac­ci­dent.

“As is stan­dard for any ac­ci­dent such as this, the school has con­ducted a fur­ther re­view of its pro­ce­dures and risk as­sess­ments.

“The school has taken ac­tion that it deems to be ap­pro­pri­ate in the cir­cum­stances of this ac­ci­dent.”

Ri­ley Mered­ith-Mor­gan shows his dam­aged teeth

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