A SCHOOL in Chalfont St Peter has been ordered to pay £8,000 after admitting three breaches fire safety regulations.

The governing body of St Joseph’s Catholic Primary School pleaded guilty to the charges – which dated back to 2007 – at a hearing at Wycombe Magistrates' Court on Friday.

During sentencing, a District Judge said the breaches reflected “serious failings by the school”.

Governors admitted failure to take general fire precautions, failure to adequately implement the findings of a fire risk assessment and failure to appoint fire wardens.

The school, in Priory Road, was fined £2,250 and ordered to pay prosecution costs of £5,750.

The prosecution was brought by Buckinghamshire & Milton Keynes Fire Authority.

Area Manager Chris Bailey said: “The prosecution was brought in the interests of public safety. These breaches were very serious and served to place children and teachers in the school at serious risk should a fire have occurred.

“This case should serve to indicate to governors, headteachers and persons in charge of Schools that they must take all reasonable steps to maintain a safe environment from fire for all children in their care.

“Schools are in the group of premises categorised as being particularly vulnerable to fire. A fire in a school, as well as putting the lives of children and teachers at risk, damages the fabric and infrastructure of local communities.”

St Joseph's Catholic Primary School issued a statement following the court hearing.

It said: “The Governing Body pleaded guilty on Friday 4 September at Wycombe Magistrates' Court to three charges brought by Buckinghamshire Fire Authority in relation to events which occurred in 2007. The Fire Authority withdrew three other charges.

“Governors felt it was in the school's best interests to bring this matter to a conclusion, rather than go through a prolonged court case.

“We accept the outcome of the case, though we regret it has taken so long to resolve.

“The safety and welfare of our staff and pupils is paramount and we are satisfied that the changes and improvements we have made to the School now meet the Fire Authority's standards. There will of course be regular reviews, and staff training to maintain our high health and safety standards.

“The District Judge said that in commissioning a Fire Risk Assessment in 2007 the Governors had had the School's interests in mind and recognised that the School's voluntary Governors are committed to supporting the School.

“We now wish to focus our time and energy on our staff and pupils, which is where our hearts lie. We pride ourselves on being a happy, safe and consistently high-achieving school.

“As we embark on a new school year, we intend to put this matter in the past - where it belongs - and move forward.”

Since October 1 2006, officers from Buckinghamshire & Milton Keynes Fire Authority has inspected 108 schools and this is the only prosecution that has been brought to date.