Sheffield MP calls for urgent school repairs spending after constituent injured – “It is horrifying”

A Sheffield MP has called on the Government to “end austerity in our schools” and provide urgent funds for building repairs after one of her constituents was badly injured at a city primary school earlier this year.
Watch more of our videos on Shots! 
and live on Freeview channel 276
Visit Shots! now

Sheffield Hallam MP Olivia Blake read out a message to the Government from a constituent, Carla, during a Commons debate on school buildings safety. She said that Carla suffered a serious head injury after a 15ft board fell off her children’s school and hit her on the head.

Carla said in her statement: “I have two boys, aged 9 and 10, at primary school in Sheffield. On January 12 a large strip of board around 15ft long fell off the school and hit me in the face. I had a significant black eye and needed three weeks off work as I had no ability to concentrate.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

“I have been left with headaches, minor scarring around my eye and I am still waiting for an ENT referral for intrusive tinnitus.

Sheffield Hallam MP Olivia Blake is calling on the government for urgent spending on school repairsSheffield Hallam MP Olivia Blake is calling on the government for urgent spending on school repairs
Sheffield Hallam MP Olivia Blake is calling on the government for urgent spending on school repairs

“I know this accident could have been prevented and it was pure luck that no-one died: 10 minutes after the accident, a classroom of children were filing out from where I had just been injured.

“We can’t wait until the inevitable happens before meaningful action is taken. Steps need to be taken now to ensure the safety of all children, teachers and staff.”

After reading out Carla’s statement, Ms Blake called on schools minister Nick Gibb to “outline what immediate steps are being taken to ensure that the whole school estate is safe, commit to publishing that condition survey of schools and pledge finally to end austerity in our schools so that students in all our constituencies can receive the good-quality education they deserve in – importantly - a safe and supportive environment.”

‘Falling apart’

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

She said: “Clearly my constituent has had to go through a lot and it should shame us all. It is horrifying that we have got to this point.

“Our children’s school buildings are literally falling apart and, as Carla said, it is surely only a matter of time before something even worse happens.

“Carla is also right that this could have been prevented. Thirteen years of reckless Conservative cuts have left us with capital spending on schools cut by 50% in real terms between 2010 and 2022.

Read More
NHS to permanently close Firshill Rise

“Despite promises to end austerity in our schools, new capital spending pledges are a drop in the ocean. In my city, 153 of 163 schools face cuts in 2023-24 and are set collectively to lose about £7.7 million.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

“What is worse is that ministers are keeping parents in the dark about how bad the situation is.”

Last month Ms Blake met with her constituent, the school and Baroness Barran, the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Department for Education, to discuss what further support could be provided to the school to help improve safety.

Collapse risk

In its annual report, published in December, the Department for Education said: “There is a risk of collapse of one or more blocks in some schools which are at, or approaching, the end of their designed life-expectancy, and structural integrity is impaired”.

It added: “The risk predominantly exists in those buildings built in the years 1945 to 1970 which used ‘system build’ light-frame techniques”.

The Government has so far not published its Buildings Conditions Survey, showing the locations and conditions of every school building which poses a risk to life. This has been criticised by the Labour Party and major teaching unions.