Sussex

William Avery-Wright: Worth School head 'should resign'

  • 28 January 2014
  • From the section Sussex
William Avery-Wright (Picture from Crowborough Beacon Golf Club)
Image caption William Avery-Wright was running late for a rugby match when he was hit by the Land Rover

The head teacher and chair of governors at a public school should resign over their handling of the death of a pupil who was hit by a car, an MP has said.

William Avery-Wright, 13, was knocked down by a 4x4 outside Worth School, near Turners Hill, West Sussex, in 2011.

His death was announced to parents by head teacher Gino Carminati before his father had been told, MPs heard.

Wealden MP Charles Hendry was speaking in a debate about dangerous driving.

The Conservative told the House of Commons William was crossing the road to play in a rugby match when he died.

He said the school had breached its health and safety policy by failing to ensure an adult supervised pupils in year seven and eight while they crossed Paddockhurst Road.

An inquest in Crawley last year recorded that William's death was an accident.

'Presided over failure'

Mr Hendry said William's parents had also been let down by the Health and Safety Executive and the Crown Prosecution Service, which had decided not to prosecute the school for a "catastrophic breach" of its health and safety rules.

West Sussex County Council was criticised by the MP for not dropping the road's speed limit from 60mph to 40mph until after William's death, despite receiving letters on the issue.

"The headmaster who presided over the failure to enforce the school's own health and safety rules, which resulted in the death of a promising student, remains in post two years later," Mr Hendry said.

"Throughout he has been supported by the chair of governors, Mrs Alda Andreotti.

"In over 20 years since I was first elected to this House I don't think I've ever called publicly for anyone's resignation.

"But I don't understand how two human beings whose primary duty should be the well-being of children in their care could possibly countenance staying in post when they have failed so evidently and dismally in those responsibilities with such tragic consequences.

"If they have any decency they would both have resigned as a matter of principle and it is still not too late for them to take that action to show their genuine contrition to William's parents."

Image caption William died after being hit by a car on the road which runs past Worth School

Worth School has previously said it published the information about the pupil's death in good faith but its initial belief that both his parents had been told about the tragedy turned out to be incorrect.

During the Commons debate, Conservative MP for Kingswood, Chris Skidmore, called for a new offence of causing death by dangerous driving while disqualified.

James Duddridge, Conservative MP for Rochford and Southend East, called for probationary "P plates" to be made compulsory for drivers who had just passed their test.

Conservative Bob Stewart, MP for Beckenham, said people who killed others by dangerous driving should never again be allowed to have a driving licence.

Justice Minister Jeremy Wright promised MPs he would look closely at comments about drivers who kill while disqualified.

He said the government had created a new offence of causing serious injury by dangerous driving, which the minister said "filled a gap" in the law and made sure appropriate punishments were given out.

Discussing sentencing guidelines, Mr Wright said driving while disqualified was already an aggravating factor when judges come to hand down punishments.

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