UK education secretary caught swearing about coverage of concrete row

Gillian Keegan voiced her frustration after being questioned about concerns related to the presence of RAAC in schools.

UK education Secretary Gillian Keegan has been caught on camera voicing her frustrations about coverage of the crumbling concrete row.

In footage released by ITV News filmed as the camera repositioned for extra shots, Keegan – still wearing her microphone – criticised others and claimed the UK Government had gone “over and above” in addressing concerns relating to reinforced autoclaved aerated concrete (RAAC).

She said: “Does anyone ever say, you know what, you’ve done a f****** good job because everyone else has sat on their a*** and done nothing?

“No signs of that, no?”

The education secretary took part in a series of broadcast interviews on Monday morning about the decision to fully or partially close schools in England because of safety concerns about RAAC.

More than 100 schools in England have been told to fully or partially close because of safety fears over the concrete, which was used in construction between the 1950s and 1990s.

The Scottish Government has also confirmed that RAAC was found in 35 schools across Scotland, with local authorities in the process of checking other buildings.

First Minister Humza Yousaf has said a desk-based review of collapse-prone concrete will likely take “some months”, but has stressed that mitigations will be put in place where there is risk.

Speaking on Monday, Yousaf said: “It was important to do the desk-based review, but it’s also fair to say that where NHS sites, in particular, feel there needs to be a physical investigation, then there will be a physical investigation if that’s required.

“Given the size of the estate we’re looking at, not just the NHS but the public sector estate, it will take some months to complete that fully.

“But, of course, it’s not a binary, it’s an evolving picture,” he added, claiming that “appropriate mitigations” will be put in place when the concrete is found.

Freedom of information requests from the Scottish Lib Dems show a number of universities and colleges have been impacted – with both Aberdeen University and Edinburgh University both reporting that eight of their buildings have been impacted.

Scottish Lib Dem leader Alex Cole-Hamilton said: “Across Scotland we are finding more and more examples of this potentially dangerous concrete in use. We knew it was in schools, NHS buildings and police stations, now we know that it is present across our higher and further education campuses.

“Many of these colleges and universities have taken precautions to reduce the risk but with new evidence from England suggesting that even sites previously deemed safe can catastrophically collapse, it is time for the Scottish Government to come up with a proper plan of action for resolving this issue for good.”

Louise Gilmour, Scotland secretary of trade union GMB, asked why schools had been closed in England, but the Scottish Government did not see fit to follow suit.

“So far, in Scotland, there are many questions but far too few answers,” she said.

“Exactly what safety checks have been done in Scotland and, if buildings have been checked, does the crisis unfolding in England demand those buildings are revisited?

“Why has the UK Government taken such dramatic action when, in Scotland, ministers offer only reassurance?

“In the absence of hard, detailed information about the risk assessments already undertaken then blithe reassurance is a recipe for confusion and uncertainty.

“Have ministers in England received advice and safety warnings that ministers here have not?

“The Scottish Government, education authorities, the NHS and every other public body must act with transparency and urgency to detail what checks have been made and what risks have been found.”

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