After suffering an accident in a school swimming lesson as a child, a woman has won a landmark legal case which is now expected to generate major implications for school trips and extracurricular activities.

At the age of 10, Annie Woodland, then a pupil at Whitmore School in Essex, almost drowned during a compulsory swimming lesson.

Despite the County Council claiming it was not responsible for Ms Woodland’s injuries as the swimming lesson was being taught by a private contractor, the Supreme Court overturned previous decisions which supported the local educational authorities and ruled against the County Council, stating it was ultimately liable for Ms Woodland’s accident.

This decision was reached in spite of warnings from other Judges that imposing such a wide-ranging duty of care on local educational authorities is likely to have major repercussions on schools, school trips and the extracurricular activities available for pupils.

Although it is thought that as a result of this case, extra steps will be taken by the local authorities to provide the appropriate care in these situations, we at Hubbard Pegman & Whitney expect this case to have a chilling effect on the willingness of education authorities to provide educational experiences for pupils, and that this may also have an impact on hospitals and other public bodies.


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