Page last updated at 15:41 GMT, Thursday, 12 February 2009

Hammer attack school under review

Henry Webster
Henry Webster is now at a different school

Swindon Local Safeguarding Children Board has ordered a serious case review after a boy, 15, was left for dead at his school following a hammer attack.

Thirteen teenagers were given custodial sentences ranging from eight months to eight years for battering Henry Webster with a claw hammer at Ridgeway School.

Liz Webster, Henry's mother, described the two years she has had to wait for an official review as "excruciating".

The review will establish what lessons are to be learned from the case.

It is unacceptable that there has not been any full investigation of such a serious incident
Ed Balls, Children's Secretary

"I am delighted at the decision to hold a serious case review because this case raises issues at both a local and a national level," said the Webster family's solicitor, Mark McGhee, of Linder Myers Solicitors.

"As a direct result of the attack that took place on school grounds, Henry has sustained a serious brain injury, the consequences of which are likely to be lifelong.

"The least he deserves from everyone is a full, thorough and totally independent inquiry."

Mrs Webster met the Children's Secretary Ed Balls in January. He strongly advised that a serious case review should go ahead.

Urgent action

Mr Balls said: "It is unacceptable that there has not been any full investigation of such a serious incident."

Serious case reviews are held by Local Safeguarding Children Boards (LSCBs) when a child dies and abuse or neglect is known or suspected to be a factor in the death.

A serious case review must also always be considered when a child sustains a potentially life-threatening injury or serious and permanent impairment of their health and development.

The review will establish how lessons learned from the case will be acted on and what should change to improve the safeguarding of children.

According to official guidelines, such reviews should be carried out as quickly as possible - within a month of a case coming to the attention of the LSCB - and completed within four months.

Henry was attacked in January 2007 - his attackers were sentenced in May 2008.

He is now at a different school.

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