Some pupils 'prefer' portacabins over classrooms, says Education Secretary Gillian Keegan

19 September 2023, 17:21

Gillian Keegan
Gillian Keegan says pupils prefer to learn in portacabins over classrooms . Picture: Alamy/LBC

By Anna Rees

Education Secretary Gillian Keegan has once again sparked controversy with her comments on the school concrete crisis, by claiming that schoolchildren "petitioned" her to have their lessons in portacabins, as "they preferred them to the classroom".

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The comments come as the list of schools built with reinforced autoclaved aerated concrete (Raac) reaches 174, and some schools have been forced to teach children in temporary buildings.

Addressing Parliament, the Education Secretary said: “I have been to a number of schools and seen children and met children in the portacabins.

"In the first school I went to the children were all petitioning me to stay in the portacabin because they actually preferred it to the classroom.”

Ms Keegan previously stated "everyone else has sat on their arse” during the concrete crisis and that she deserved thanks for "doing a f***king good job".

READ: Education Sec blames interviewer as she apologises for expletive-laden rant over concrete crisis

She has since apologised for the comments, saying: “School and local leaders deserve huge credit for making sure the vast majority of settings with confirmed Raac are continuing to offer pupils face-to-face learning.

“We will continue to work closely with affected schools and provide both expert and financial support to minimise disruption and keep staff and children safe.”

READ: Crumbling concrete found in 27 more schools, bringing the total number to 174

As a result of the dangerous concrete, thousands of pupils have faced disruption to the new schoolyear. 23 schools are now facing some degree of remote learning measures, with one school conducting their teaching entirely online.