Kay Burley Calls Out Education Secretary Over Department's Alleged £34m Refurb As Schools Crumble

Schools around England remain closed today over buildings' safety concerns.
Kay Burley skewered Gillian Keegan over her own department's refurbishment
Kay Burley skewered Gillian Keegan over her own department's refurbishment
Sky News

Kay Burley was quick to ask Gillian Keegan about reports the government’s education department just got a £34 million makeover while some schools in England are crumbling.

The Sky News host was questioning the education secretary on Monday morning over the discovery of unstable concrete in more than 150 schools last week.

Days before the end of the summer holidays, “RAAC” (reinforced autoclaved aerated concrete) was found in schools’ buildings, putting them at risk of collapse.

This has caused national concern as the government rushes to try and rebuild any schools with RAAC, while promising to cover the cost.

Burley also asked Keegan if it was true that her own Westminster department just spent millions on a fresh look, as The Sun reported on Sunday, which allegedly included stripping out the 1990s interior across four floors.

The education secretary said: ″I don’t know actually, I haven’t done it.

“I know that when I was last in the department, I was on a different floor and I know they are refurbishing some of them.”

She claimed she “wasn’t involved” in the refurbishments, but promised to check the costs of such a makeover when she returned to her office.

The Sun claimed the plans started with Keegan’s predecessor last year, but the current education secretary still signed off on the plans back in April while schools were being checked for RAAC.

The department told the newspaper that the project started in 2019 was will “significantly reduce the annual maintenance costs of the building to the taxpayer” and allow officials to work productively,

Speaking on Sky News, Keegan also claimed she was unable to say how many schools would be affected by the situation overall, because “we’ve got more surveys to do” to understand the depth of the problem.

The government has been criticised over the decision to close schools just as the autumn term begins, especially as pupils have been on their summer holidays since July.

Keegan claimed this inconvenient timing came down to a particular case discovered “towards the end of August”.

She did not provide any detail about how much the critical repairs would cost but just said “the department for education will pay for all of that”.

However, she also added that school building are usually the responsibility of local authorities and trusts.


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