Probe launched after six-year-old injured in lab fire

Hazeley School
Hazeley School

AN internal investigation has been launched after a teacher and a six-year-old boy were hospitalised following a fire in a school science lab.

The incident took place at Hazeley Academy last Wednesday and the Health & Safety Executive is also carrying out a probe into events.

The unnamed 35-year-old female teacher is said to be in a comfortable state after some of her clothing was ignited during what the school has called, ‘a routine, tried and tested demonstration’.

The boy, a child of another Hazeley teacher, is said to have escaped with minor, superficial injuries. He was not a pupil at the school, but his own school was closed for the day due to last week’s industrial action.

The Academy was open to Years 12 and 13 despite the strike, with more than three-quarters of staff in the building.

After the science teacher caught on fire, staff – including the Academy’s nurse – rushed to her rescue. The teacher was airlifted to hospital to Stoke Mandeville Hospital suffering from burns to her face and body.

She is said to be in ‘really good spirits’ with some of her injuries less severe than originally thought.

The boy was discharged the day after the incident and returned to school the next day.

Principal Mark Bennison, who had been at a pre-booked National Conference in Birmingham at the time of the fire but returned to the Academy immediately, praised staff for their expert handling of the situation.

And in his Blog yesterday, Mr Bennison insisted there had been no explosion, but admitted it had been a ‘critical incident’.

He wrote: ‘On Wednesday, a non-striking teacher-colleague was air-lifted to hospital.

‘This followed her receipt of burn injuries sustained as she herself rehearsed a demonstration practical in the science prep room.

‘Her work involved the normally controlled burning of a sample of alcohol. A young boy, the child of a fellow science teacher, was present at the time but mercifully, escaped with minor injuries – returning to his school the very next day.

He added that no Academy students had been present at the time, but said that other adults in the room had been able to summon help.

‘The first aid given and the evacuation procedures were later praised by emergency services and a hospital consultant,’ he added.

‘Whilst, going forward, there do remain a lot of questions to be answered regarding how this routine demonstration went wrong and with investigations well underway, our early thoughts and prayers are, of course, with our injured colleague.

‘Whilst students and staff obviously know the identity of the teacher, the family have asked that the Academy do not publish her name at this time. Within hours, the hospital had reported her condition as comfortable (better than stable).

‘More recently, her family have reported her to be ‘in very good spirits’, ‘up and about’ and with some of her injuries more superficial than was first thought, before the swelling had subsided.’

Last week the fire service told this newspaper: “A 35-year-old female was airlifted to Stoke Mandeville Hospital for treatment to burns to her face and body, where she is in a stable condition.

“A six-year-old boy was also taken to hospital with superficial burn injuries to his face. He is also in a stable condition.”

A spokesman for Health and Safety Executive said: “We are aware of the incident at the Hazeley Academy and an inspector has been to site to begin an investigation.”