Lanark Grammar head teacher said accident had a “devastating effect”

THE head teacher of Lanark Grammar School had no concerns placing three young teachers, all still in their twenties, in charge of the school trip which went tragically wrong with the death of 17-year-old pupil Natasha Paton.

At Monday’s session of the Fatal Accident Inquiry into her death on March 31 2010 – when the school coach collided with a bridge parapet at Wiston before plunging onto a burn below – 53-year-old head teacher Mark Sherry said that the relative inexperience in teaching the three had was “outweighed” by their record in taking part in previous school trips.

He also said that he had put in place a “plan” to ensure the trip leader, 26-year-old Peter Colquhoun, was properly tranined and mentored by an experienced staff member before he led the ill-fated trip to Alton Towers.

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Mr Sherry testified that all proper procedures, including a risk assessment, had been carried out by Mr Colquhoun before the trip.

He also said he was completely satisfied with the checks made on the weather before the coach trip set off on that snowy morning. An all-clear on the road condictions had been made to Mr Colquhoun by a senior Grammar teacher earlier on the morning of the trip.

The head teacher said the first he knew of the accident was at 7.35am when he arrived at the Grammar and was told by that same senior member of staff; he then set in place a pre-set action plan for dealing with the situation.

Asked if he would have allowed the trip to go ahead if he’d had any doubts at all about the abilities of Mr Colquhoun, he replied: “Absolutely not.”

Asked what the effect of the tragedy had been, he replied: “The accident had a devastating effect. It was something you never imagine happening. The loss was overwhelming.”

The Inquiry continues.

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