- Fears pupils face lockdown-style online lessons for months amid concrete crisis
Gillian Keegan issued a grovelling apology today after launching an extraordinary foul-mouthed rant while she was being grilled about the concrete crisis on TV.
The Education Secretary said sorry for her ‘choice language’ after being caught on camera venting her frustration during an an interview with ITV News.
In a clip posted on the X social media site, Ms Keegan seemed unruffled and thanked the journalist as they wrapped up the questioning.
But the footage kept rolling as the clearly angry minister remarked: ‘Does anyone ever say, you know what you’ve done a f***ing good job because everyone else has sat on their a** and done nothing? No signs of that, no?’
It is unclear who Ms Keegan was criticising for ‘sitting on their a**’. She took over as Education Secretary from Kit Malthouse in October last year, which was long after concerns had first been raised about Raac.
Rishi Sunak has been under fire for curbing spending on upgrading school buildings, while Ms Keegan also hit out at Labour for failing to take action when it was in power before 2010.
No10 distanced itself from Ms Keegan’s eruption, branding it ‘unacceptable’ – and she later recorded another interview apologising.
She said she had been referring to ‘no-one in particular’ with the jibe about others being lazy, and was ‘frustrated’ at the journalist ‘making out it was all my fault’, as well as at schools being slow to supply information about Raac.
‘I would like to apologise for my choice language, it was unnecessary,’ she said.
‘I apologise for the language, but it is something that I am very keen to make progress on.’
Gillian Keegan was caught on camera venting her frustration as she finished giving an interview to ITV News
A taped off section inside Parks Primary School in Leicester which has been affected by the Raac crisis
Mr Sunak held a cross-government briefing on the Raac issue in Downing Street today
The TV crew seemed slightly taken aback by her outburst, as she stared at the reporter.
Typically comments made before an interview starts and after it finishes are regarded as off the record.
However, ITV pointed out on X that Ms Keegan was still wearing her mic and they were about to film extra shots when the exchanges happened this morning.
‘In the moments after the main body of the interview had finished, and as the camera repositioned for extra shots, Keegan – still wearing her mic – criticised others and claimed the govt has gone ‘over and above’ in addressing concerns relating to Raac,’ ITV said.
Braving the cameras again to apologise, Ms Keegan said: ‘It is frustrating because we’re doing everything now to take a leading position to be on the front foot to put of all the support in place that responsible bodies and schools need.
‘It’s also frustrating that we’ve got some questionnaires that still are not there, we’ve been chasing and chasing them, we’ve written again today to say you need to get your questionnaires in by the end of the week.’
The Prime Minister’s official spokesman said: ‘I think that the language used obviously is not acceptable. It is right that the Education Secretary has apologised for that.
‘But at the front of parents’ minds will be the situation in their schools and I think that is what they will want to hear more about.’
Ms Keegan has endured a painful day as she toured studios trying to put the government’s case about the developing shambles.
She was accused of going missing after the crisis dramatically escalated on Thursday night, sending schools minister Nick Gibb out for the morning broadcast round the following day.
And Chancellor Jeremy Hunt was the one facing a quiz on the Sunday politics shows. Ms Keegan is due to make a statement to the Commons this afternoon as it returns from the summer break.
More than 100 schools are having to fully or partially shut after alarm was raised about RAAC in buildings – a lightweight type of concrete that was used from the 1950s to the 1990s, but it is now believed can collapse without warning.
Thousands of children in England are facing the prospect of online lessons as they return for the start of the new academic year today.
Ms Keegan looked visibly uncomfortable as she was grilled by Good Morning Britain host Susanna Reid in another interview.
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 tried to explain that 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.
‘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.’
Ms Keegan’s rant was branded a ‘staggering display of arrogance’ and an ‘insult to families’ by Labour.
Shadow Schools Minister Stephen Morgan blasted the Education Secretary following her furious rant today, recorded by a film crew.
Speaking to MailOnline, Portsmouth South MP Mr Morgan said: ‘This extraordinary outburst is an insult to frightened families who still don’t know whether their children’s schools are safe – and an admission that the Conservatives have done nothing to address a problem that they have known about for years.
‘The Education Secretary has displayed staggering arrogance for saying she deserves a pat on the back for the chaos that is gripping our schools on her watch.
‘Families, school leaders and school staff deserve an immediate apology for these appalling comments.’
Education Secretary Gillian Keegan was grilled by Good Morning Britain’s Susan Reid over the crumbling concrete crisis that has impacted schools
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