Shadow education secretary says 'Building Schools for the Future Programme' would have prevented Raac crisis

7 September 2023, 20:22

Shadow education secretary says: "I don't believe that our students can get a first class education in a second class building"

By Jasmine Moody

The Shadow Education Secretary criticises government "transparency" over the RAAC crisis and discusses potential education reforms under Labour with Tom Swarbrick.

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Concerning the RAAC crisis and the current school system, Tom Swarbrick asked the Shadow Education Secretary Bridget Phillipson: "What would Labour do in the circumstances in which you’ll inherit?"

Ms Phillipson replied: "I believe the immediate priority is to get to the bottom of exactly the scale and extent of the challenge that we’re seeing right now."

She acknowledged that the government had published a list of affected schools but said: "I’m concerned I’ve heard examples of schools that are affected by RAAC concrete that aren’t on the list.

"We then need to see mitigations in place. I want to make sure children are back learning as quickly as possible."

Read more: 'I am seethingly angry': Mum vents frustrations amid 'shambolic' handling of RAAC crisis

Ms Phillipson then spoke about the disruption schools have faced.

"They’ve already seen an incredible amount of disruption particularly because of the pandemic and then the government needs to set out a plan to acridly clear out the RAAC and put right our schools estate.

"I do believe that has to be the immediate priority. I don’t believe, however, that we needed to have gotten to this position in the first place."

She then told Tom about the last Labour government's Building Schools for the Future Programme, which was scrapped by the following Conservative government.

"When Labour was last in government back in 2010, we’d done so much to transform schools across our country.

"We had a plan for Building Schools for the Future Programme that would have re-built or significantly refurbished every single secondary school in England."

She concluded her point: "Had that happened, we wouldn’t be having the same conversation I’m afraid."

Read more: 'Is it not completely mental?': Tom Swarbrick astonished as schools shut due to crumble-risk concrete before new term

Tom then asked whether her main priority, if Labour were voted in, would be "re-building a lot of schools."

She returned to her previous point about the Conservatives scrapping the Labour-made programme: “Many of those schools should have been rebuilt and there are many examples of schools that were actually part of that programme.

"The Conservatives came in, they scrapped it out of hand and then were in a position with those schools years on with this RAAC.

She further emphasised the importance of solving the RAAC crisis: "RAAC is a really important issue.

"It’s right that we focus on efforts on make sure our schools are safe."

She then listed other issues schools are facing, such as "asbestos, poor insulation" and "issues around drainage."

She continued: "I don’t believe that our children can get a first-class education in second-class buildings and we will need to put that right, absolutely.

"The government have been far from transparent about all of this, I’ve been raising this for months and months and months and yet it takes us to get to this crisis point for there to even be a degree of transparency about what’s going on

She said: "I think we need more transparency from the government."

Shadow Education Secretary refuses to promise Labour will spend 'whatever it costs' to rebuild schools affected by Raac if they get into power

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