Moment GMB’s Susanna Reid tears into Education Secretary Gillian Keegan over crumbling concrete crisis – as she brands it a ‘mess’
The crumbling concrete scandal that has thrust schools up and down the country into crisis with thousands of pupils still in the dark on whether their ceilings will collapse has been branded a ‘mess’.
Sitting alongside fellow presenter Ed Balls – a former secretary of state for education – Ms Reid said: ‘This is a mess, isn’t it?’
Ms Keegan appeared uncomfortable as she went on to try and explain what had happened over the summer which has plunged more than a hundred schools into chaos with some having to shut off buildings, while others have closed completely as term started today.
Three ‘incidents’ occurred – some not in schools – where in one a roof panel had fallen at a ‘non-critical’ site towards the end of August, she said.
After speaking to experts and structural engineers, Ms Keegan took the ‘very cautious decision’ guidance.
‘I didn’t want to risk this happening anywhere,’ she said. ‘So I change the guidance on non-critical roofs to say we had to do the same with critical ones, which is prop them up or get temporary accommodation in place.
‘I do understand that for parents and the headteachers who are affected that was last minute, but you can only act on the evidence when it emerges.’
Interrupting her, Ms Reid pointed to an ITV investigation in March where it was found 68 schools were aware it had RAAC – a lightweight form of concrete used between the 1950s and 1990s – and could be at risk with more than 1,500 in the dark, with 2,000 still to have an inspection.
Ms Reid said: ‘That was back in March, we are now in September and you won’t know the full scale of this until the end of the year. Daniel [Hewitt, ITV reporter] said at the time in March that he had not had an interview with the Department for Education.
‘We bid for an interview with you or one of your ministers back in March and could not get anywhere with this. It seems remarkable that now the first day of term we are in the situation we are in when you knew the full scale of this back in March.’
More to follow.