Rishi insists he's NOT to blame for concrete crisis as new term in chaos amid warning HUNDREDS more schools at risk | The Sun

RISHI Sunak slapped down claims he was to blame for the concrete schools crisis – as ministers admitted more schools are at risk.

The new school year kicked off in chaos as the Education Secretary warned surveyors are still scrambling to check all pupils are safe.

It came as a former chief at the Department for Education claimed Rishi Sunak slashed funding to fix up reinforced autoclaved aerated concrete (RAAC) during his time as Chancellor.

But this morning Mr Sunak snapped back: " I think that is completely and utterly wrong.

"Actually one of the first things I did as chancellor, in my first spending review in 2020, was to announce a new 10-year school re-building programme for 500 schools.

"Now that equates to about 50 schools a year, that will be refurbished or rebuilt."

A total of 156 schools were told last week their buildings contained the crumbling concrete.

Of those, 104 have partially or completely closed, delaying the start of term for thousands of pupils.

For other kids returning to the classroom, lessons will take place in office blocks and portacabins.


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With parliament back in session after a six-week summer break, ministers are under huge pressure to sort out the scandal.

Officials have bumped up the number of firms surveying buildings from two to eight.

Desperately seeking to reassure nervous parents, Ms Keegan said: "The vast majority of surveys that we do, they come back without RAAC, but where we find it we will then treat everyone as critical and we will either prop them up or put temporary accommodation into place and then we will refurbish or rebuild them if they require that.

"What we're doing right now is we've assigned a caseworker for each one of the schools, for working with the school to figure out what the mitigation plans are."

It comes as a former boss at the DfE this morning accused the PM of failing to fully fund a critical schools rebuilding scheme when he was Chancellor.

Jonathan Slater told the BBC's Today programme that in 2020 he warned 300-400 schools a year needed to be rebuilt.

But there was only funding for 100, which was further by Mr Sunak cut to 50.

Mr Slater said: "It was frustrating of course.

"The most important thing is for priority to be given to safety.

"There's never enough money for everything, but we were able to present them with really good data.

"We weren't just saying there's a significant risk of fatality – we were saying there's a critical risk to life if this programme is not funded."

RAAC was widely used in public buildings from the 1950s to the 1980s.

Air pockets in the unstable concrete crumble, weakening structures.

Where RAAC was used for load-bearing walls or roofs, entire buildings are in danger of collapsing without warning.

The issue was first highlighted in 1999 and became a major issue after the partial collapse of a roof at a Kent school in 2018.

Ministers have come under fire for refusing to publish a full list of schools instructed to completely or partially shut down.

This morning Ms Keegan vowed a register will go live "this week".

She insisted DfE officials want to be completely sure of the data before making it public.

The Education Secretary said: "We will publish the list, but I do want to double-check that the school has had the opportunity – because not all the schools are back yet – to tell all parents."

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Here are the affected schools we know about, check to see if your kids' school is included.

Education secretary Gillian Keegan, writing in The Sun, said the concrete crisis does not mean a return to “dark days” of school lockdowns.

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