It’s September, and here in the UK – every year – it means “Back to School”. That’s apart from kids whose schools are falling apart because they were built with RAAC concrete, of course.
This Writer woke up to the following tweet:
Government has know since 2018 that 572 schools may have buildings with defective concrete, 65 confirmed and 24 needing immediate action.
Schools will shut.
Just a reminder schools shut from March to September in 2020 due to Covid.
Takes incompetence to a new level.
— Howard Beckett (@BeckettUnite) August 31, 2023
Putting the “2018” claim aside for a moment, the number 572 is what leapt out at me. Didn’t I already do an article about 572 schools?
Yes! I did!
Back on June 28, I wrote this:
According to the BBC, it means 700,000 school pupils – a little more than six per cent of the total school population – could be in danger because of the dilapidated state into which the Tories have allowed schools to fall.
The National Audit Office (NAO) report says the Department for Education (DfE) has, since 2021, assessed the risk of injury or death from a school building collapse as “very likely and critical”.
The NAO, the UK’s independent public spending watchdog, said risks had not been addressed because of years of underfunding.
It said the deteriorating condition of school buildings was damaging pupil attainment and teacher retention.
Instead of acknowledging the failures, the Tory-run Department for Education has protested that it has been “significantly investing in transforming schools”. Into death traps?
The article went on to quote the claim that £15bn had been allocated to school repairs since 2015, and after 2020, the Department for Education was allocated £3.1bn per year to keep schools safe and operation. But the DfE had requested £4bn, with £7bn per year the “best practice” level.
So the government had allocated less than half the cash needed to restore these schools properly.
This information has all been regurgitated in the news today – although the £3.1bn has been increased to £4bn for reasons not known to This Writer.
Also repeated in today’s stories is the fact that the Tories stopped funding the Building Schools for the Future programme in 2010:
— Breakthrough Party 🟠🌤️ (@BThroughParty) September 1, 2023
The only new element seems to be the identification of bubbly “RAAC” concrete is the reason these schools are crumbling.
And apparently 104 unsafe schools are set to close (although more announcements are happening all the time, so the number could become much higher):
104: the number of schools that will close as they are unsafe
£9.2 billion: the NHS's maintenance backlog
2 out of 1,500: rivers in England safe to swim in
£21 billion: fraud under Rishi Sunak
The country cannot afford the Conservative Party. Please vote for anyone else.
— Farrukh (@implausibleblog) August 31, 2023
Let’s get back to the length of time during which the Tory government has known about this problem.
If 2018 is indeed the year it was discovered, then the failure to use lockdown time (when pupils were at home) during the Covid-19 pandemic is unforgiveable.
If it was 2021, then the Tories still had many school holiday periods to start building works to fix these problems.
Ah, but they had only put aside less than half the cash needed for it – and by this time, the government was spending huge amounts on the consequences of Brexit.
That brings us to June 28, when I published my initial article about this. We were told that the government was aware of the issue, and that it had been told the amount of cash allocated to solve the problem was not adequate.
It would have been reasonable to expect the government to allocate the necessary funding to this problem so that building work could take place during the summer holidays.
But it seems that has not happened.
And most people probably think this is something that has only just come to light!
Now, the education of hundreds of thousands of school pupils is going to suffer because the Conservative government was too irresponsible to do the right thing at the right time.
I saw a video clip by Maximilien Robespierre, suggesting a plausible reason for this, and I’ll put it to you as a question:
Did the Tories procrastinate about this because they were hoping it would become an issue for a different government after the next general election? Because they were hoping to be able to blame this on the Labour Party?
If so, you need to ask yourself a question that should be of paramount importance when you consider how to vote in that election:
Have the Tories been gambling with the lives of your children, just to save money and win an electoral advantage?
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