Ministers criticized for England school buildings as injured woman | schools

The government has been charged with “total dereliction of duty” over the state of school buildings in England after a woman suffered a serious head injury when a large piece of cladding fell off while waiting to collect her children. children.

The incident at Dore Primary School in Sheffield, which was raised in the House of Commons on Monday, came at a time of growing concern over the deteriorating condition of the school and warnings that some buildings are in danger of collapsing.

The injured woman had to take three weeks off work, underwent an MRI and has tinnitus as a result of the incident in January. “I didn’t see him leave. I heard a little crack and then something hit me in the face,” she said.

Carla, who did not want to give her full name, was waiting in front of the school for her two children, ages 8 and 10, near one of the exits used by students, when the 12- to 15-foot-long board with steel nails 4 inches fell and hit her on the head.

“It is horrible that we have reached this point,” he said. “Our children’s school buildings are literally falling apart and it seems like it’s only a matter of time before something even more serious happens.

“My injuries are serious enough, but the fact that this could so easily have been a child is beyond thought. I know the school is doing everything they can, but I also know they don’t have the funds. It seems that this is a warning sign for the government and I really hope it is not ignored.” The school, which Ofsted deemed “outstanding” in 2015, declined to comment.

This month, seven unions wrote to the government demanding immediate action to address the “shocking” state of school buildings in England after years of inadequate investment.

The Education Department acknowledged the crisis in its latest annual report, which raised the risk level of buildings collapsing from “critical” to “critical, very likely.”

Last week the government confirmed that at least 39 public schools in England have been forced to partially or fully close in the past three years because one or more buildings were deemed unsafe.

Olivia Blake, Labor MP for Sheffield Hallam, who raised Carla’s case during questions on education, said parents and teachers at the school were concerned about the safety of the building and the impact of repair costs on the already overburdened budget. from school.

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“It is a complete dereliction of duty. Thirteen years of reckless conservative cuts to schools’ capital spending budgets have left us in this situation. Now my constituent is paying the price. Ministers must take urgent action to address this crisis before someone else is harmed.”

Responding in the House of Commons to a question by Blake and others about the deterioration of school buildings, Schools Minister Nick Gibb said that a greater number of structural problems had been identified through ongoing monitoring and inspection of the school compound.

“We can and do improve the life expectancy of school buildings through careful maintenance and improvements over time. That’s why we have a 10-year rebuild program and allocate significant capital funds each year. And whenever the department learns of a dangerous building, immediate action is taken.”

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