Pressure Mounts on UK Ministers Over Crumbling Schools and Controversial Remarks

Pressure Mounts on UK Ministers Over Crumbling Schools and Controversial Remarks

Education Secretary Gillian Keegan has found herself in hot water over her response to the crumbling concrete issue affecting schools.

After an interview on Monday, Keegan was caught on camera venting her frustration, criticizing those she believed had not taken sufficient action, and using explicit language.

She later issued an apology for her choice of words.

Furthermore, Keegan revealed that she had been on holiday in Spain just before ordering the closure of more than 100 schools and colleges in England due to safety concerns.

Cabinet Meeting Amid Criticism

Gillian Keegan is set to face her Cabinet colleagues during a meeting led by Prime Minister Boris Johnson, marking their first gathering since the parliamentary summer break.

The government has been criticized for what has been labeled a “sticking plaster approach” to essential maintenance in public buildings, including schools, by the head of the National Audit Office, Gareth Davies.

Widening Impact of Crumbling Concrete Issue

On Monday, Prime Minister Boris Johnson acknowledged that hundreds more schools could be affected by the reinforced autoclaved aerated concrete (Raac) issue.

While he claimed that 95% of England’s schools remained unaffected, concerns lingered about the potential impact on over a thousand schools, with Downing Street estimating the number to be in the hundreds.

Accusations Against Rishi Sunak

Rishi Sunak, the former chancellor, faced accusations from Jonathan Slater, the former permanent secretary at the Department for Education (DfE), who claimed that Sunak had declined a request for funding to rebuild more schools.

According to Slater, the funding provided was inadequate, covering only 100 schools out of the needed 400 annual replacements.

Sunak vehemently denied these allegations, asserting that Slater’s criticism was “completely and utterly wrong.”

Immediate Challenges for Pupils

As schools grapple with the crumbling concrete issue, students may face disruptions in their education, including learning in temporary classrooms, relocating to different sites, or returning to remote lessons akin to those during the pandemic.

Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland Also Affected

The Raac issue is not limited to England, as schools in Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland are also being assessed for potential risks.

In Scotland, 35 schools have been identified with the issue, but officials have stated that none pose an immediate risk to student safety.

In Wales, two schools on Anglesey were temporarily closed due to concerns about Raac.

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