Education Secretary Gillian Keegan issued a public apology following a heated incident during a TV interview regarding the concrete crisis.
The incident occurred during an interview with ITV News, where she was caught using explicit language to express her frustration.
While initially appearing composed and thanking the journalist, the camera kept rolling as Keegan vented her anger, questioning if anyone had acknowledged her efforts in contrast to others who seemed inactive.
It remains unclear at whom Keegan’s frustration was directed, as she assumed her role as Education Secretary long after concerns surrounding Raac (a lightweight building material) had emerged.
Criticism has also been directed at Chancellor Rishi Sunak for budget cuts affecting school building upgrades, while Keegan pointed out Labour’s inaction before 2010.
10 distanced itself from her outburst, labeling it ‘wrong,’ leading to Keegan recording another interview to offer her apologies.
In her apology, Keegan clarified that her remarks weren’t directed at anyone specific and expressed frustration at being held responsible for the crisis, along with the slow response from schools regarding Raac.
She acknowledged that her choice of language was unnecessary but emphasized her commitment to addressing the issue.
Notably, this incident occurred while Keegan was still wearing her microphone, and extra shots were being filmed after the main interview concluded.
ITV defended its decision to air the comments, explaining the context in which they were made.
Concrete Scandal Timeline and School Closures
The concrete scandal, involving the use of Raac in school buildings, has led to more than 100 schools fully or partially closing due to concerns that this material could collapse without warning.]
The timeline of events surrounding this crisis is as follows:
– 1950s to mid-1990s: Raac, a lightweight building material, was used.
– 1995: The Times newspaper reported the first warnings about Raac cracking in roofs.
– 2018: The Department for Education (DfE) considered Raac as a potential issue.
– June 2023: Problems with Raac were highlighted in a report by the National Audit Office (NAO).
– Summer 2023: Schools minister Nick Gibb mentioned fresh evidence coming to light.
– August 31, 2023: Parents were informed that some schools would be forced to close.
As a result, thousands of children in England are facing the prospect of online lessons as the new academic year begins.
Education Secretary Grilled on TV
During interviews with the media, Education Secretary Gillian Keegan faced tough questioning about the concrete crisis.
On “Good Morning Britain,” host Susanna Reid, alongside former Secretary of State for Education Ed Balls, characterized the situation as a mess.
Keegan explained that her actions were prompted by incidents, including a roof panel collapse at a non-critical site in late August.
She acknowledged the last-minute nature of her decisions but stressed the need to act based on emerging evidence.
Reid referred to an ITV investigation from March, which revealed that many schools were aware of the Raac issue.
She criticized the Department for Education for not addressing the problem earlier, given the knowledge of the scale of the issue.
Political Reaction and Criticism
Keegan’s outburst drew strong criticism from the Labour Party, with Shadow Schools Minister Stephen Morgan describing it as a “staggering display of arrogance.”
Morgan argued that Keegan’s comments insulted families and highlighted the government’s failure to address the longstanding problem.
In addition to this incident, Keegan’s history includes controversies such as wearing a luxury watch during discussions about a teacher pay dispute and facing criticism for going on holiday during GCSE and A-Level results season in August 2020, citing remote work permissions.