Private School Fined £80,000 After Classroom Ceiling Collapse

A private school in south London has been fined £80,000 following a classroom ceiling collapse that injured 15 children and their teacher. The incident occurred in November 2021 at Rosemead preparatory school in Dulwich. The school, which is part of the Thurlow Educational Trust, charges fees of up to £5,606 per term.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) revealed that the classroom ceiling collapsed after tables and chairs stored in an attic above the classroom came crashing down. The pupils, aged seven and eight, suffered fractures to their upper limbs, concussion, and cuts as a result.

The HSE investigation found that the attic was not designed to bear any weight, yet chairs and tables were being stored there. The trust had failed to conduct assessments on the structural capacity of the storage area or its suitability for storing items.

The HSE inspector, Samuel Brown, emphasized the importance of ensuring children’s safety in schools. He expressed relief that the incident did not result in more serious injuries but highlighted the potential mental and emotional impact on the children involved.

Thurlow Educational Trust pleaded guilty to breaching sections 2(1) and 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974. In addition to the fine, the trust was ordered to pay over £7,000 in costs.

Brown underscored the need for employers to take action to prevent overloading of areas not designed to bear weight, as failure to do so can lead to severe consequences.

Speaking on behalf of the school, Nick Crawford, the chair of the trust, expressed deep regret and apologies for the incident. He assured that the school had fully cooperated with the HSE investigation and implemented significant measures to strengthen its health and safety arrangements.