Government Sports Day Postponed Due To School Concrete Crisis
Exclusive: The government has postponed its Northern Sports Day in the wake of the school concrete crisis.
The event, which was scheduled for Friday, has been put back and will take place on a more “suitable” date.
The government is understood to have prioritised fixing pressing problems, such as the reinforced autoclaved aerated concrete (RAAC) crisis.
A source with knowledge of the situation told PoliticsHome there was concern it would look bad if civil servants were competing in events like "an egg and spoon race", while hundreds of schools were closed.
In an outburst caught on camera this afternoon, the Education Secretary Gillian Keegan said she believed was doing a “fucking good job”, while other people had “sat on their arse and done nothing”. She later apologised for her language.
The concrete crisis is threatening the closure of more than 150 schools across England.
A former DfE permanent secretary said this morning that he believed as part of the 2021 spending review, when Rishi Sunak was chancellor, the Treasury decided to halve the number of schools which would be rebuilt to 50.
Jonathan Slater also claimed in an interview with the BBC that civil servants wanted more investment and money to rebuild between 300 to 400 schools a year. However, Slater added that DfE requested Treasury funding to pay for 200.
The PM's spokesperson challenged Slater's characterisation of the events when Sunak was chancellor. They said that Sunak's decision to fund the rebuilding of 50 schools per year was "in line" with decisions made by successive governments.
The Prime Minister’s spokesperson said it is thought unsafe concrete is to be in the “hundreds, not thousands”, while the majority of schools and educational settings are thought to be safe.
An ex-education minister told PoliticsHome they believed the RAAC crisis was due to the Treasury failing to give the Education department enough cash.
"A lack of HMT (His Majesty's Treasury) cash for school buildings has been a problem for years and years," they claimed.
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