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Action is needed to address condition of school buildings as woman seriously injured by falling cladding

Ministers have been criticised over England’s schools and urged to address buildings which are in danger of collapsing "before anyone else is harmed".

The concerns have been raised after a parent waiting to pick her children up from Dore Primary school in Sheffield sustained potentially serious head injury after a large piece of cladding, approximately 12 to 15ft with 4 inch nails, fell off and struck her on the head. She was stood near to an exit regularly used by pupils.

The woman reported that she "did not see it come off. I heard a bit of a crack, and then something hit me in the face’

After sustaining a serious head injury, she had to take three weeks off work. She is keen for this to be seen as a warning sign for the government and that further action will follow.

The school said it took immediate steps to avoid further incidents, with help from the local authority's health and safety team. 

Nearly 40 schools in England closed because of unsafe buildings

However, recently the Government confirmed that at least 39 state schools in England had been forced to close either partially or entirely in the past three years because one or more buildings had been deemed unsafe.

The Department for Education acknowledged the issue in its latest annual report, raising the risk level of buildings collapsing from ‘critical’ to ‘critical – very likely’. The consolidated annual report and accounts, for the year ended 31 March 2022,  summarised a key risk, as below, being managed by the Department:

"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. The risk predominantly exists in those buildings built in the years 1945 to 1970 which used ‘system build’ light frame techniques."


We see time and again the devastating effects that head injuries can cause for many of our clients who are often left needing access to specialist therapies, treatment, rehabilitation and support. Charities such as Headway UK provide early provisions of support but head injuries can impact but the patient and their family. Taking steps to prevent further incidents from happening will be important moving forward.

It's no secret that budgets are overstretched but more investment is required to enable identification and repair of structural issues to school buildings before anyone else is harmed. It's vital that safety is put at the forefront of government funding.

Find out more about Irwin Mitchell's expertise in supporting people following a head injury at our dedicated brain injuries section.