Wakefield Grammar School Foundation pleads guilty to 'failing to take general fire precautions'

West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Authority brought a prosecution against Wakefield Grammar School Foundation and its former fire risk assessor Doctor James Gibson. Photo: Google Maps
West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Authority brought a prosecution against Wakefield Grammar School Foundation and its former fire risk assessor Doctor James Gibson. Photo: Google Maps

A Grammar School Foundation failed to take general fire precautions at two of their schools, a court was told.

West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Authority brought a prosecution against Wakefield Grammar School Foundation and its former fire risk assessor Doctor James Gibson.

At a hearing at Leeds Magistrates’ Court, Dr Gibson, 65, pleaded guilty to failing to make a suitable and sufficient risk assessment at Wakefield Girls’ High School (WGHS), Queen Elizabeth’s Grammar School (QEGS) and Mulberry House Nursery School between February 16 and March 11, 2017.

Wakefield Grammar School Foundation pleaded guilty to failing to make a suitable and sufficient risk assessment at WGHS and QEGS between February 16 and March 11, 2017.

The foundation also pleaded guilty to failing to take general fire precautions at the schools between the same dates.

Concerns included the removal of doors to cloakroom areas at the girls’ school and the obstruction of fire doors at the boys’ school, the court heard.

Coats and bags stored in an area that served as a means of escape at the nursery school could have facilitated the spread of fire, the prosecution said.

District judge Marie Mellon said: “A number of children were exposed to risk and some very young, very vulnerable children were exposed to risk.”

The case was committed for sentence at Leeds Crown Court on January 10, 2020.

Simon Chamberlain, chair of governors, said: “The safety of all pupils, staff, parents and visitors is of paramount importance to Wakefield Grammar School Foundation and is kept under continuous review.

“Any breaches of fire safety regulations have been fully rectified and this has been confirmed in subsequent school inspections in 2017 and 2018.”