Sunak accused of 'cowboy' approach to concrete crisis at ill-tempered PMQs as full list of affected schools released

6 September 2023, 12:27 | Updated: 7 September 2023, 10:58

Rishi Sunak and Sir Keir Starmer faced off with each other at PMQs
Rishi Sunak and Sir Keir Starmer faced off with each other at PMQs. Picture: Alamy

By Asher McShane

Rishi Sunak bristled at PMQs while defending his approach to the concrete crisis affecting the nation’s schools.

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As PMQs returned after summer recess, The prime minister was challenged by Sir Keir Starmer that Tory cuts had led to the crisis.

Mr Sunak insisted the ‘vast majority’ of schools would not be affected, and denied cutting budgets.

“Far from cutting budgets, the amount spent last year was the highest in a decade,” said Mr Sunak.

“That spending review maintained the school rebuilding programme.”

James O'Brien and Lewis Goodall react to Raac questions at PMQs

Read more: Full list of schools in England affected by unsafe concrete published by government

He insisted ministers took ‘decisive’ action - but sir Keir Starmer questioned how the prime minister can deny responsibility for the problem. - when leading figures including the head of the national audit office and the person who ran the department for education said Mr Sunak was “personally responsible.”

To jeers, Mr Sunak replied: “The professional advice from the technical experts on RAAC has evolved over time.”

“The government has decisively and swiftly acted in the face of that advice,” Mr Sunak added.

The exchange came after the government published a list of schools in England with risky RAAC concrete.

According to the list, 19 schools have delayed the start of term, with four using fully-remote learning. The government told schools to take action in late August, after three incidents involving RAAC.

Sir Keir Starmer told MPs ‘the cowboys are running the country’ and said the crisis was ‘an inevitable result of cutting corners’ and the sort of thing you ‘expect from cowboy builders’.

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer said: "The roof of Singlewell Primary School in Gravesend collapsed in May 2018. Thankfully it happened at the weekend and no children were injured. The concrete ceiling was deemed dangerous and liable to collapse, and everyone knew the problem existed in other schools.

"Yet the Prime Minister decided to halve the budget for school maintenance just a couple of years later. Does he agree with his Education Secretary (Gillian Keegan) that he should be thanked for doing a good job?"

Mr Sunak said: "I know how concerned parents, children and teachers are, and I want to start by assuring them that the Government is doing everything it can to fix this quickly and minimise the disruption to children's education.

"We make no apology for acting decisively in the face of new information... Of the 22,000 schools in England the vast, vast majority won't be affected. In fact, in two-thirds of inspections of suspected schools, Raac is not actually present."

He said the 1% of schools affected will have their own caseworker, adding: "In the majority of cases children will attend school as normal and the mitigations take typically just days or weeks to complete.

"We will do everything we can to help parents support teachers and get children back to normal school life as quickly as possible."

The list of schools, published on the Government website, is:

Myatt Garden Primary School

Seven Mills Primary School

The Ellen Wilkinson School for Girls

St Ignatius College

Welbourne Primary School

St John Vianney RC Primary School

Hornsey School for Girls

Brandhall Primary School

St William of York Catholic Primary School

St Andrew's CofE Primary School, Over Hulton

All Saints C of E Primary School

Abbey Lane Primary School

Pippins School

Stanway Fiveways Primary School

Baynards Primary School

Great Leighs Primary School

Henham and Ugley Primary and Nursery School

Bentfield Primary School and Nursery

White Court School

Beehive Lane Community Primary School

Eversley Primary School

Holy Trinity CofE Primary School, Eight Ash Green and Aldham

St Lawrence Church of England Primary School, Rowhedge

Great Tey Church of England Voluntary Controlled Primary School

Hatfield Peverel St Andrew's Junior School

Broomfield Primary School

Mersea Island School


Markyate Village School and Nursery

Widford School

Palmarsh Primary School

Birchington Church of England Primary School

St James' Church of England Voluntary Aided Primary School

St Bartholomew's Catholic Primary School, Swanley

Bispham Endowed Church of England Primary School

Our Lady's Catholic High School

Mayflower Primary School

Parks Primary School

Donnington Wood Infant School and Nursery Centre

Thurston Community College

Shawfield Primary School

St Paul's Catholic Primary School, Thames Ditton


Park View School

Springfield Primary School

Outwoods Primary School

Denbigh School

Sale Grammar School

The Appleton School

King Ethelbert School

Holcombe Grammar School

The Coopers' Company and Coborn School

Wood Green Academy

The Honywood Community Science School

The Billericay School

Aston Manor Academy

Hadleigh High School

The Palmer Catholic Academy

The London Oratory School

Tendring Technology College

East Bergholt High School

Hounsdown School

Thurstable School Sports College and Sixth Form Centre

Corpus Christi Catholic Primary School

Waddesdon Church of England School

Wallingford School

Woodkirk Academy

Batley Girls High School

St Clere's School

Sandbach School

Carmel College

Anglo European School

St Thomas More Catholic School, Blaydon

The Gilberd School

The Thomas Lord Audley School

St Helena School

East Tilbury Primary School

Clacton County High School

White Hall Academy and Nursery

Altrincham College

Cleeve Park School

Joyce Frankland Academy, Newport

Danetree Primary School

The Bromfords School

Royal College Manchester (Seashell Trust)

The Ramsey Academy, Halstead

Redhill School

Ark Boulton Academy

Woodville Primary School

Holy Trinity Catholic Voluntary Academy

Thomas Bullock Church of England Primary and Nursery Academy

Water Lane Primary Academy

Katherine Semar Junior School

Katherine Semar Infant School

Mistley Norman Church of England Primary School

Hatfield Heath Primary School

St Thomas More Catholic Comprehensive School

Godinton Primary School

St Francis Catholic Primary School, South Ascot

The FitzWimarc School

Winter Gardens Academy

Cherry Tree Academy

Prince Albert Junior and Infant School

Cockermouth School

Northampton International Academy

St Gregory's Catholic Science College

Bishop Douglass School Finchley

Lubbins Park Primary Academy

Scalby School

Arthur Bugler Primary School

St Leonard's Catholic School, Durham

Canon Slade School

Claydon High School

Harlowbury Primary School

Kingsdown School

Katherines Primary Academy and Nursery

Sir Thomas Boughey Academy

Harwich and Dovercourt High School

Ferryhill School

Wyburns Primary School

Jerounds Primary Academy

Roding Valley High School

Lambourne Primary School

Hillhouse CofE Primary School

Barnes Farm Junior School

St Elizabeth's Catholic Voluntary Academy

Hockley Primary School

Chipping Ongar Primary School

Langney Primary Academy

St Teresa's Catholic Primary School

St Mary and St John Junior and Infant School

St John Catholic Primary School

St Anne's Catholic Primary School, Harlow Green

St Francis' Catholic Primary School

Buckhurst Hill Community Primary School

Sunny Bank Primary School

St Benet's Catholic Primary School, Ouston

St Bede's Catholic School and Byron Sixth Form College

St Joseph's Catholic Primary School

Wells Park School

St James' Catholic Primary School, Hebburn

St John Bosco Catholic Primary School, Town End Farm, Sunderland

St Columba's Catholic Primary School, Wallsend

St John Vianney Catholic Primary School, West Denton

The Holy Family Catholic School, a Voluntary Academy

St Michael's Catholic School

Elmstead Primary Schoolhas context menu