"In my mind I did think, it's a good job you've not said that in public"
Gillian Keegan has been mocked once again for an out-of-touch claim made in Parliament, when she boasted that children actually prefer being taught in temporary portakabins to their classrooms.
In what the education secretary presumably thought was a brag and desperate attempt to deflect from the growing list of schools affected by RAAC, Keegan boasted about the “very high quality portakabins” some children were now being taught in.
It follows not so long after her hot mic moment where she was caught on camera in a sweary rant venting her frustration at others being “sat on their arses”.
“At the first school I went to, the children were petitioning me to stay in the portakabin because they actually prefer it to the classroom,” Keegan claimed. “So, the portakabins are very high quality, and I would advise the honourable lady to go and see some of the portkabins we have.”
Keegan had taken a grilling from the Shadow Education Secretary, Bridget Phillipson who highlighted how Keegan was on holiday as the RAAC school chaos panned out.
Daniel Kebede, the general secretary of the National Education Union (NEU) offered a perfect response to the out-of-touch education secretary in an interview on Sky News.
Kebede told the interviewer that Keegan had made the same claim to him in private during a meeting earlier that day.
“In my mind I did think, it’s a good job you’ve not said that in public, and there she is standing up in Parliament saying the children prefer portakabins,” started an incredulous Kebede.
“My question is, what dire state of repair are our schools in if a portakabin is better than a classroom?”
Reminded of Keegan’s previous on camera hot mic moment, the interviewer asked whether the union boss thought Keegan was aware of her blunders, “do you get the feeling she really grasps this?”
Kebede said: “As we’ve heard today, she was on holiday as this crisis was unfolding. We’ve heard that hot mic moment and now we have an education secretary saying portakabins are better according to some children.
“What it really feels like is that we haven’t got a secretary of state experiencing the same reality as the rest of the public.”
One teacher summed up on X: “Pretty sure that kids thinking their temporary portakabin is of better quality than their actual classroom isn’t the brag Gillian Keegan thinks it is..”
(Image credit: BBC News / Screenshot)
Hannah Davenport is news reporter at Left Foot Forward, focusing on trade unions and environmental issues