384708 schools concrete crisis starmer attacks sunaks tory cowboys as full list of closures revealed

Schools concrete crisis: Starmer attacks Sunak’s Tory ‘cowboys’ as full list of closures revealed

Prime minister ‘makes no apology’ for Raac decisions as Labour asks if he is ‘ashamed’ over crisis caused by 13 years of ‘botched jobs’

Expert explains why Raac is more dangerous than standard concrete

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Sir Keir Starmer has blamed the crumbling concrete crisis on “cutting corners” and “sticking plaster politics” as he grilled the prime minister in PMQs today.

The Labour leader: “It’s the sort thing you expect from cowboy builders saying everyone else is wrong, everyone is to blame, protesting that they’re doing an effing good job even if the ceiling falls in – except in this case the cowboys are running this country.”

He added: “Isn’t he ashamed that after 13 years children are cowering under steel supports, stopping their classroom roof falling in.”

Rishi Sunak said he was not sorry for the decision to close around 100 of the 156 schools with Raac, saying he would “make no apology for acting decisively in the light of new information”.

It comes as the Department for Education has published a full list of the schools affected with Raac in England.

Are you a parent whose child has been affected by RAAC closures? E-mail [email protected]


School Raac concrete crisis: 7 questions from parents answered by expert as government list affected schools

Schools Week editor John Dickens tackled questions on homeschooling, further closures, contingency plans and more:

Maryam Zakir-Hussain6 September 2023 14:24


Safety of pupils and staff is ‘priority’- Gillian Keegan

In a written statement, education secretary Gillian Keegan, said: “I know this is the last way parents, teachers and children affected by this wanted to begin the new term, but it will always be my priority to ensure the safety of pupils and staff.

“Thanks to the hard work of schools, colleges, councils, diocese and academy trusts, the majority of settings where Raac has been confirmed have opened to all pupils for the start of term.

“We will continue to support all impacted settings in whatever way we can, whether that’s through our team of dedicated caseworkers or through capital funding to put mitigations in place.

“We are also expediting surveys and urging all responsible bodies to tell us what they know about Raac, so we can be confident that settings are safe and supported.”

Maryam Zakir-Hussain6 September 2023 14:00


PM promises new funding to schools to deal with concrete issues

Prime minister Rishi Sunak offered assurances that new funding will be provided for schools with concrete at risk of collapse.

He was responding to Conservative former cabinet minister Priti Patel who asked at Prime Minister’s Questions: “Can he try to commit… to fully funding both the capital and revenue costs that are associated with getting children back into school.”

Mr Sunak said: “I am to give her the reassurance as the Chancellor already said, new funding will be provided to schools to deal with this issue.

“But also to ensure that we can get through this as quickly as possible for her constituents and parents and indeed everyone’s, DfE (Department for Education) are in the process of increasing the number of dedicated caseworkers from 50 to 80.

“We have 35 project directions regionally on the ground to support, and we’ve increased the number of survey firms by more than double so that we can rapidly over the next few weeks fully assess all the relevant schools and have a mitigation plan in place.”

Maryam Zakir-Hussain6 September 2023 13:45


Starmer: ‘Gillian Keegan’s £34m Whitehall office makeover shows reality of uncaring Tories’

The £34m revamp of education secretary Gillian Keegan’s offices shows that the Tories don’t care about spending enough to fix collapsing schools, said Sir Keir Starmer.

The Labour leader used PMQs to savage Rishi Sunak’s government over the crumbling concrete crisis – arguing that “the cowboys are running the country”.

Ms Keegan told Sky News earlier this week she “didn’t know” £34m was being spent on the departmental refurb and insisted she “wasn’t involved”.

But Sir Keir – highlighting the extravagant spending as ministers come under fire over “underinvestment” in schools – said it had her “personal stamp of approval”.

Adam Forrest has more:

Maryam Zakir-Hussain6 September 2023 13:30


Starmer: Sunak’s champagne Tories put bubbly tax cut ahead of bubbly concrete

Keir Starmer has accused Rishi Sunak of putting champagne drinkers ahead of school safety by cutting the budget for rebuilding classrooms while slashing duty on bubbly.

Ahead of a showdown with the prime minister in the Commons later the Labour leader highlighted Mr Sunak’s decision to slash investment in the school estate while reducing duty on sparkling wine.

“These are choices. [Sunak] didn’t say, ‘Well, I can’t do that in relation to champagne’. He took a choice to cut the rate in relation to champagne and not to sign off the necessary funding for school,” Sir Keir told BBC News.

Maryam Zakir-Hussain6 September 2023 13:10


Gillian Keegan’s department ‘gave £1m from schools rebuilding pot to company linked to husband’

Education secretary Gillian Keegan has “serious questions to answer”, said Labour after it emerged that a company linked to her husband was handed a £1m contract from a schools rebuilding fund.

The cabinet minister’s husband Michael Keegan states on his LinkedIn social media page that he is a non-executive director at technology firm Centerprise.

The company was one of six suppliers awarded IT contracts earlier this year to replace server infrastructure at schools – with the money coming from the school rebuilding programme fund, according to the Daily Mirror.

Adam Forrest reports:

Maryam Zakir-Hussain6 September 2023 12:57


The full list of schools affected by Raac concrete

The government has published the full list of schools so far identified to be affected by Raac concrete.

The list, published just 30 minutes before Rishi Sunak faced the Commons, includes 147 schools so far.

But the number of buildings is expected to swell as more assessments are coming out.

See the full list here:

Maryam Zakir-Hussain6 September 2023 12:48


Sunak says Labour’s school rebuilding programme is ‘time-consuming and expensive’

Rishi Sunak has branded Labour’s school rebuilding programme as “time-consuming and expensive”.

His comments came after Sir Keir Starmer asked him in the Commons: “Carmel College in Darlington was on the Labour’s building list in 2010. They scrapped it and now children there are in a crumbling school.

“And on the one hand, we have him saying it’s nothing to do with him, on the other side, we have the facts and there is a simple way to clear this up: why doesn’t he commit to publish the requests from the Department of Education for the school rebuilding programme and what risks he was warned of before he turned them down?”

The Prime Minister replied: “He has now brought up twice the Labour schools rebuilding programme. So let’s just look at that and look at the facts surrounding that because we do know the truth about that programme because the NAO (National Audit Office)… actually reviewed that programme later on, what did they find? They found that Labour school rebuilding programme actually excluded 80% of schools.”

The Prime Minister went on to say the NAO also found the programme was “a third more expensive than it needed to be” and “only allocated funds solely on the basis of ideology with no regard whatsoever to the physical condition of schools”.

He added: “That’s why the independent James review described that programme as time-consuming and expensive, just like the Labour Party.”

Maryam Zakir-Hussain6 September 2023 12:31


Sunak says he understands parents’ concerns but ‘makes no apology’ for Raac decisions

Rishi Sunak said he was not sorry for the decision to close around 100 of the 156 schools with Raac.

The PM said he would “make no apology for acting decisively in the light of new information”.

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer said: “The roof of Singlewell Primary School in Gravesend collapsed in May 2018. Thankfully it happened at the weekend and no children were injured. The concrete ceiling was deemed dangerous and liable to collapse, and everyone knew the problem existed in other schools.

“Yet the prime minister decided to halve the budget for school maintenance just a couple of years later. Does he agree with his Education Secretary (Gillian Keegan) that he should be thanked for doing a good job?”

Mr Sunak said: “I know how concerned parents, children and teachers are, and I want to start by assuring them that the government is doing everything it can to fix this quickly and minimise the disruption to children’s education.

“We make no apology for acting decisively in the face of new information… Of the 22,000 schools in England the vast, vast majority won’t be affected. In fact, in two-thirds of inspections of suspected schools, Raac is not actually present.”

Maryam Zakir-Hussain6 September 2023 12:25


Watch: ‘We make no apology for acting decisively’- Sunak responds to RAAC criticism

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said “we make no apology for acting decisively in the face of new information” as he faced criticism about reinforced autoclaved aerated concrete (Raac) in schools at Prime Minister’s Questions.

PMQs: ‘We make no apology for acting decisively’ Sunak responds to RAAC criticism

Maryam Zakir-Hussain6 September 2023 12:23

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