Beds, Herts & Bucks

Matthew Hitchman High Wycombe pupil's death: 'Lessons will be learned'

Matthew Hitchman Image copyright Family of Matthew Hitchman
Image caption Matthew Hitchman was a "caring, well-liked student who was highly regarded" by pupils and teachers, the school said

An education authority has said lessons will be learned from the death of a sixth-former who fell out of a raft while on a school trip to Ecuador.

Expedition organiser World Challenge is investigating the death of Matthew Hitchman, 17, from the Royal Grammar School, High Wycombe, on 6 August.

The group had just completed a trek to the Northern Andes, when Matthew died after falling off an inflatable raft.

Buckinghamshire County Council said it would also learn from the inquest.

Interim executive director of children's services for the council, Gladys Rhodes White, said: "We are deeply shocked and saddened at this dreadful news.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The itinerary of World Challenge trips to Ecuador generally start from the country's capital city Quito

"We are working closely with the school and will provide whatever support is needed to help all those affected by this tragedy.

"The county council provides guidance on school trips to schools, which acknowledges the educational benefits of learning outdoors and explains the processes for minimising the risks.

"Lessons learned about Matthew Hitchman's tragic death from both the World Challenge independent review and the coroner's inquest will inform any future changes to guidance both locally and nationally."

Suzanne Holroyd, a spokeswoman with the Outdoor Education Advisers' Panel - which provides school trip advice and training, said she expected the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) would investigate the case and the panel would act on HSE recommendations.

A spokesman for World Challenge, which organised the trek, told the BBC earlier: "A full independent review is already under way."

The pupils had been working on a community project to provide sustainable tourism income in a remote area of Ecuador.

Image copyright Google
Image caption Matthew Hitchman, 17, went to the Royal Grammar School in High Wycombe

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