School staff suspended over pupil's asthma death

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The Independent Online

Five members of staff have today been suspended at a school criticised at an inquest after the death of an 11-year-old boy who suffered an asthma attack in class.

Sam Linton died after neglect at Offerton High School, in Stockport, "significantly contributed" to his death, the inquest jury ruled.

He was made to sit in a corridor struggling to breathe, no ambulance was called and by the time his mother was summoned to the school his lips were turning blue.

The boy died a few hours later in hospital on December 4, 2007.

Stockport Council today said five staff have been suspended from the school.

A spokesman said the suspensions are while an internal inquiry is carried out. He refused to name the staff.

The three-week inquest at Stockport Coroner's Court heard how valuable time was lost as Sam was made to sit in the corridor.

The jury ruled last week Sam's death was by natural causes but significantly contributed to by neglect on an "individual and systemic level".

His parents, Paul and Karen Linton, have called for stronger implementation of first aid procedures at the school.

Mr Linton today described the council's move as a "knee-jerk reaction" and too little, too late.

Stockport Council said: "In the light of the detailed evidence presented to the inquest, and the verdict reached by the jury, Offerton School, with the assistance of the council, has decided to carry out an inquiry into the actions of a number of staff. Five members of staff have been suspended, without prejudice, pending the outcome of the inquiry.

"While it has been some time since Sam's death there has not been a period of inactivity. Immediately following Sam's death, the governing body reviewed the handling of pupils' medical needs relating to asthma and other medical conditions, and has adapted systems and practices at the school.

"While the case did not meet the criteria for a Serious Case Review as set out in Government guidance, the panel immediately commissioned an Independent Management Review (IMR) as all agreed that there were lessons to be learned.

"The initial IMR report was completed in 2009, its recommendations accepted by the Local Safeguarding Children's Board and action plans were put in place. Progress has been made on the action plans and matters raised during the inquest will also add to this process. Once this work is complete an executive summary will be published.

"The council continues to provide guidance support and resources to schools to assist them in formulating their policy and procedures in managing medical needs.

" The council is currently working with colleagues in Stockport Primary Care Trust to review the current policy on managing medical conditions and the updated version will be with schools at the start of the summer term.

"The council also recently hosted two half-day training sessions for all Stockport schools on managing pupils with medical conditions. This event was supported, attended and addressed by Asthma UK and Greater Manchester Ambulance and Paramedic Service."