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Running The Risk: Hannah Pook v Rossall School [2018] EWHC 522 (QB) - Colin Richmond, Zenith Chambers

28/05/18. When I was young, running in the corridor at school was essentially considered a capital offence, particularly if committed whilst carrying scissors.

For the modern student-about-school, many things have changed since my day. It would seem ludicrous to a modern twelve-year-old to find that their school owned only one computer. The idea of being unable to complete a piece of homework electronically might seem equally unreasonable.

But what is the modern view of running in school? That was one of the issues considered by Mr Justice Martin Spencer QC when he heard the appeal in Pook v Rossall School earlier this year.

The Appellant was a ten-year-pupil, attending the Defendant’s school. Having changed for a PE lesson she, along with other pupils, ran from the changing room along a footpath with the intention of reaching the Astroturf sports field to play hockey.

According to the Appellant, pupils were instructed by teachers not to “dawdle” when moving from the changing room to the pitch and were, in fact, encouraged to run. On this occasion, the teacher supervising the pupils was making her way to the pitch some way behind them, carrying the necessary hockey equipment. She was assisted by a post-graduate student.

As the Appellant ran towards the pitch, she left the footpath and cut across a muddy patch of grass. In doing so, she fell and fractured her elbow.

The Appellant’s case was that the Defendant had breached its duty of care in failing to properly supervise her by encouraging her to run and allowing her out of sight of the teacher.

A factual dispute arose regarding the...

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