Education Secretary Gillian Keegan has defended being on vacation throughout the summer season – regardless of there being additional proof of using unsafe concrete in buildings.
Ms Keegan was on vacation in Spain from 25 August to 31 August when she admitted that three new circumstances of strengthened autoclaved aerated concrete (RAAC) emerged – one in a industrial constructing, one in an schooling “setting” and one in a college in England.
Ms Keegan has been on the forefront of the RAAC disaster that’s unfolding in faculties in England, the place greater than 104 faculties have been ordered to shut or partially shut due to the concrete – which is liable to collapse after a time frame.
The challenge has brought about disruption for hundreds of pupils simply as they return to highschool following the summer season holidays.
Earlier as we speak Ms Keegan apologised for her “choice language” after she was caught complaining about not being thanked for doing a “f***ing good job” over the concrete disaster.
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Ms Keegan appeared on because the footage was performed again to her on Sky News’ new Politics Hub present hosted by presenter Sophy Ridge.
Challenged on whether or not it was a “mistake” to go on vacation, Ms Keegan replied: “To be honest, for the whole of the summer, obviously I had to sort out industrial action, then I had to do A-Levels and I had to the GCSEs – so the first time I could go on holiday…”
Ridge interjected: “So we should feel sorry for you?”
Ms Keegan replied: “Not at all. I don’t expect anybody to feel sorry for me. I’m certainly not getting that vibe from you.”
The schooling secretary mentioned her journey to Spain was a “family occasion”, however that she “worked remotely” whereas away, including that the surveys and investigations have been nonetheless ongoing and she or he was planning to return “straight away” for once they got here again, which she did.
In an interview with ITV News in Westminster – which caught her on digicam swearing – the cupboard minister criticised others for being “sat on their arses” and claimed the federal government had gone “over and above” in addressing considerations regarding strengthened autoclaved aerated concrete (RAAC).
While her mic was nonetheless on she mentioned: “Does anyone ever say ‘You know you’ve done a f***ing good job because everyone else has sat on their arses and done nothing’.
“No indicators of that, no?”
Ms Keegan’s outburst came after she had come under pressure over the unfolding crisis in schools caused by the use of RAAC.
Pupils face being taught in temporary classrooms, on different sites, or even forced into pandemic-style remote lessons.
Critics have accused the Tories of a “shambolic” handling of the situation, saying risks associated with the dangerous material have been known about for years.
Ms Keegan later apologised and admitted she was “pissed off with the interviewer” who was “making out it was all my fault”.
In a statement in the House of Commons this afternoon, Ms Keegan promised to publish the full list of affected schools “this week” as she sought to stress that disruption would be minimal.
Addressing MPs, she said “completely nothing is extra necessary than the protection of kids or employees” – but that the “overwhelming majority of colleges are unaffected” – a point she repeated to Ridge.
Asked whether she would like to apologise for how the crisis has been handled, Ms Keegan said she was “actually sorry” that pupils were missing school”, however added: “Prioritising safety is the most important point – and I wouldn’t apologise for that.”
Asked for his view on the scenario, Labour’s shadow well being secretary Wes Streeting mentioned he believed Ms Keegan had “misunderstood why people are angry”.
“To start the term with this chaotic backdrop – and then to see the education secretary saying why [aren’t] people thank me I think is an insult,” he says.
Former schooling secretary Baroness Nicky Morgan additionally informed the Politics Hub that the fiasco was each secretary of state’s “worst nightmare”.
But she mentioned her successor had finished the “only thing” she may presumably may have finished in her scenario, including that England has an “aging school estate”.
“Safety is paramount,” she added.