Gillian Keegan apologises for swearing over school concrete crisis – BBC

This video can not be played
Keegan: 'Does anyone ever say, you've done a good job?'
The education secretary has apologised for her language after being caught swearing on mic as she expressed irritation over the concrete crisis.
Having finished an interview with ITV, Gillian Keegan used the f-word as she asked "does anyone ever say you've done a good job because everyone else has sat on their arse and done nothing?"
In a later interview she said she was sorry for her "off-the-cuff" remark.
She added it was driven by irritation at a reporter's questions.
"He was making out it was all my fault," she said adding: "It is frustrating because we are doing everything we can to take a leading position, to be on the front foot."
"I worry about this. I haven't slept all night worrying about this," she said.
She said she was also frustrated that some questionnaires sent to schools about their buildings had not yet been returned.
Asked if she was accusing schools of sitting on their "arse", Ms Keegan insisted her comments were not aimed at anyone "in particular".
She also said she was not expecting to be thanked personally for her work but praised her department for taking a "leadership role".
During the initial interview, the education secretary was pushed on whether the government had done enough to fix the problem of crumbling concrete – also known as reinforced autoclaved aerated concrete (RAAC) – in school buildings.
More than 100 schools have been fully or partially closed due to the risk.
Ms Keegan said local authorities and multi-academy trusts had always had the responsibility for maintaining the buildings.
She added it was "not the job" of the Department for Education to maintain school buildings but it had chosen to contact schools in order to have information on RAAC collected centrally.
She said that following a collapse in a Kent school in 2018, the department had sent warnings to "the people responsible".
A Downing Street source said Prime Minister Rishi Sunak was satisfied with Ms Keegan's apology. "I think what will be at the forefront of parents' minds is the situation of their school, and the government's focus today has been on providing further transparency," a spokesman added.
"What the public will continue to find is that in the vast majority of cases, their child's school is not affected."
Labour's leader Sir Keir Starmer said ministers had "dropped the ball… instead of coming out and saying this is what we going to do to fix the problems, you've got members of the Cabinet trying to blame other people".
The Liberal Democrat's education spokesperson Munira Wilson said: "Expecting people to thank her when children are being taught in classrooms at risk of collapse shows Keegan must be living on another planet."
In the House of Commons, where Ms Keegan was making a statement about RAAC, Labour MP Dame Diana Johnson joked that if the education department needed more money it could install a swear box in the office.
During her interview, Ms Keegan also defended going on holiday at the end of August when the crisis was beginning to unfold. She said she had taken meetings while on her break in Spain and had returned "as soon as I was needed".
"I'm on duty wherever I am. Occasionally you have to make some time for an elderly person's birthday – in this case my dad, who I adore."
This video can not be played
Watch: Gillian Keegan apologises for expletive comment
Her interview came at the end of a morning during which the government had been criticised for decisions it made over funding provided to schools.
Jonathan Slater, a former senior civil servant in the education department, said that the government had halved the budget for school repairs in England in 2021.
He said the government had initially agreed to fund work, including fixing RAAC issues, in 100 schools, however, this was reduced to 50 schools. Mr Sunak was chancellor at the time.
Mr Sunak said it was "completely and utterly wrong" to suggest he had overseen budget cuts that were now leading to issues in the structural integrity of school buildings.
He added said that 95% of the 22,000 schools in England "won't be impacted" and that the "bulk" of schools yet to be identified as having an issue would be known in the coming weeks.
Don't blame me for failing to fix RAAC, says Sunak
Updated list of schools affected by Raac concrete
Are other buildings at risk of concrete failure?
Zelensky speaks in Canada after strike on Crimea navy base
US Senator allegedly bribed with 'a lot of gold'
F35-pilot to 911: I've ejected but not sure where jet is
Who is Rupert Murdoch?
Murdoch's succession drama reaches its finale
Five things to know about Lachlan Murdoch
'We are not in charge of our own bodies'
Do China's vanishing officials spell trouble for Xi?
Weekly quiz: What was Nicole selling to help the Hollywood strike?
Shadow of 'Ukraine fatigue' hangs over Polish politics
Listen: Funding Ukraine…or America First? Audio
The rise of 'paid paid' time off
A 'beach towel revolt' sweeping Greece
The rise of 'finfluencers'
© 2023 BBC. The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read about our approach to external linking.


Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top