Get off your backsides and answer concrete questions, Keegan tells school chiefs

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It came as it emerged the Houses of Parliament are the latest public building being investigated for the type of crumbling concrete that has prompted ministers to order the mass closure of school buildings across the country.

Teams of surveyors are investigating whether RAAC is present within the fabric of any parts of the estate.

And NHS England asked for all hospitals to survey their buildings amid fears the concrete is more widespread than previously thought.

Meanwhile, the Government’s commitment to make classrooms safe within weeks was thrown into doubt on Tuesday by the disclosure that the school that originally kicked off the RAAC crisis took 18 months to fix.

The Government was also mocked for issuing an infographic stating that “most schools are unaffected”. It prompted Labour to make a reference to the classic film Jaws and remark: “Most beachgoers not eaten by big shark”.

‘Desperate attempt by Government to deflect from its own failings’

On Tuesday, Ms Keegan told Jeremy Vine on BBC Radio 2 that five per cent of schools, or the bodies responsible for them, had still not responded to a questionnaire sent out by the Department for Education in March 2022.

“Now hopefully all this publicity will make them get off their backsides,” she said. “But what I would like them to do is to respond because I want to be the Secretary of State that knows exactly in every school where there is RAAC and takes action.”

Paul Whiteman, the general secretary of the NAHT school leaders’ union, criticised her comments and said: “Any attempt to start shifting the blame onto individual schools will be seen by parents and public for what it is: a desperate attempt by Government to deflect from its own significant failings.”

The Prime Minister’s official spokesman did not repeat the Education Secretary’s call for the responsible bodies to “get off their backsides”.

But he said: “Certainly, parents want reassurance on this and I think we would agree that it is important that all schools, as 95 per cent or more have already done so, fill out this survey so we can provide further reassurance.”

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