STUDENTS from a leading Ribble Valley private school were allowed to get drunk during a supervised trip out, a tribunal has heard.

The 27 pupils from Moorland High School, in Clitheroe, drank wine, lager and spirits during a visit to an Indian restaurant, the employment tribunal in Manchester was told.


But giving evidence, headteacher Jonathan Harrison said none of the students had been given permission by him to drink alcohol and none of their parents had consented.

Deana Hall, a former house parent at the school, is claiming she was unfairly dismissed from her job following the incident.

She was one of three boarding house staff who took the group of 15 to 18-year-olds to the Balti Stan Indian restaurant in Clayton-le-Moors for a meal.

Mrs Hall, 53, told the hearing yesterday it was the responsibility of her superior, boarding house manager, Deborah Richards, to secure the correct permissions.

She added that Mrs Richards had said a glass of wine, paid for by the school, would be permitted.

Mr Harrison, who represented the school at the tribunal, said that Mrs Hall had failed in her safeguarding duties and was guilty of gross misconduct by allowing students to get drunk.

He also said that her actions placed the children in danger and the school could have been closed down as a result.

Following the incident on Friday, May 16, 2014, Mrs Richards resigned her position and told the headteacher that she accepted full responsibility.

Mrs Hall and her colleague Carol Cradock were suspended and attended an internal disciplinary hearing after which they were both dismissed.

Mrs Hall, who lives in Crowsdale Drive, Clitheroe, appealed the decision but was unsuccessful.

The mum-of-two and grandmother-of-one, who had worked at the school for more than ten years, said that making sure that parental permission for school trips was secured was not her responsibility.

She also told the hearing that she did not see any student drinking more than a glass of wine or a pint of lager.

Among the evidence presented at the hearing was a series of pictures allegedly showing students with alcohol and that one boy had a glass of wine, three pints of lager and bought a Jack Daniels with Coke for another student.

It also heard how students were reportedly acting drunk and slurring their words.

Mr Harrison told the tribunal: “She still can’t accept that she did anything wrong and I think it’s appalling.

“She brought the school into disrepute.

“She was in breach of the trust of the school and the parents and her conduct could have led to a serious injury to a student who, under the influence of alcohol, could have wandered out of the restaurant and into the path of a car which could have closed the school down.

“I find it impossible that she has not accepted any wrong doing.”

Mrs Hall said: “Mrs Richards rang me up afterwards and told me that she felt awful that we were going to lose our jobs because she had not done her job correctly.

“No student was drunk at all and we made sure of that at the end of the night.

“During my whole time at the school I had never seen a risk assessment and it was not part of my role.

“I would not have permitted alcohol at all if I had organised the trip but my boss said that it was ok and I had no reason not to trust her.”

Citizen’s Advice Bureau lawyer Angela Cuncliffe, who represented Mrs Hall, said: “My client seems to have been made a scapegoat.

“She has lost a job she loved, her good name and quite a bit of money.”

Judgement was reserved by Judge Rebecca Howard and is expected to be given in the next four weeks.

Following the hearing Mr Harrison said: “Sometimes we have to make very difficult decisions when looking to protect the welfare and needs of children.”