Ten months after a schoolgirl suffered traumatic brain injuries from hitting her head on concrete steps her family are still struggling.

Now her mum wants to share their story to remind schools of the importance of taking safety seriously.

On the morning of October 19 last year, Angela Love received a phone call from Gladstone Primary School in Auckland's Mt Albert, informing her that her daughter, Lucy Frost, had fallen down some stairs and was "complaining of a sore ear".

The stairs at Gladstone Primary School where Lucy fell. Photo / Brett Phibbs
The stairs at Gladstone Primary School where Lucy fell. Photo / Brett Phibbs

Within minutes Love arrived at the Mt Albert school to find her 10-year-old daughter in "extreme stress and pain".


"Lucy was on the bed, with no blanket, no sick bowl and no one with her. She was very pale and when she saw me she got very upset. She tried to stand up and couldn't even hold her weight.

"I remember saying 'oh my gosh she can't even walk' and the staff looked at me and turned their backs," Love said.

Love claimed that when she asked the staff why an ambulance wasn't called, a staff member told her they thought Lucy was "playing up".

"This was very distressing to hear, especially given Lucy's history. If staff aren't believing the students and have that attitude then that poses a real risk. Frankly that lack of care is unacceptable."

Five years prior Lucy had suffered another head injury at the school when she was running and tumbled over a ball. She cut her nose and lip, grazed her chin and ended up taking two terms off school to recover.

The school's principal, Dave Shadbolt, said an investigation into the latest incident was underway.

All health and safety procedures were followed, Shadbolt said, and minimising risk was a priority in everything the school did.

Mum Angela Love is upset with Gladstone Primary School's response to her daughter's serious accident. Photo / Brett Phibbs
Mum Angela Love is upset with Gladstone Primary School's response to her daughter's serious accident. Photo / Brett Phibbs

"When Lucy was brought to the office [by other students] she was coherent and not distressed," Shadbolt said.


However, because of Lucy's earlier accident, staff called Love immediately.

However Love says an ambulance should have been called in the first instance.

Love rushed her daughter to her GP just around the corner from the school, too shocked to call 111 herself.

"I ran in holding Lucy in my arms saying someone please call an ambulance."

Instead they were told to wait for a doctor and were taken to a room where Lucy was monitored every 30 minutes for nearly four hours, before a new doctor looked at Lucy's ear and immediately dialled 111, citing a possible skull fracture.

Lucy was rushed to Starship children's hospital and spent a week in hospital. She had suffered a fractured skull, two brain bleeds and ear damage.

"It could have been a lot worse as it was so close to her temple and we are lucky it wasn't, but her recovery has been long and is ongoing and we are still struggling."

Love said neurologists could not give a prognosis at this early stage and as with all concussions only time would tell.

Love, a kindergarten teacher, hasn't returned to work since the accident in order to focus on her daughter's care.

A "Be Safe" sign on the outside of school building. Photo / Brett Phibbs

Concerned with some of the staff members' response to Lucy's accident, Love lodged a formal complaint with the school's Board of Trustees in March.

After the Herald approached Gladstone Primary School for comment, Love received an apology from the chair of the board.

Shadbolt said the Board of Trustees took the complaint seriously and it had appointed a subcommittee to review the complaint and provide a recommendation to the board.

Love said she had not been notified of this.

"A recommendation will be tabled at the next Board of Trustees meeting at the end of this month. And a written response will be provided to Ms Love," Shadbolt told the Herald.

Love said she wanted to share her story to remind schools of the importance of ensuring all safety measures were taken seriously.

Last year there were over 36,000 school-related claims reported to Accident Compensation Corporation (ACC) for children aged 5-10. In Auckland alone, there were nearly 15,000. For the past three years that number has been rising.

Lucy is now back at school after several meetings with the principal, Lucy's mum and dad, her medical case worker and her teacher.