Education Secretary Gillian Keegan explained she chose a “very cautious approach” and closed schools just days before the new term after instances over the summer where crumbling concrete had “failed” in settings previously classified as non-critical.

Speaking for the first time since the concrete crisis, she told Sky News on Monday: “What happened over the summer is we had three cases – not in schools, some in schools, some not in schools – and I sent structural engineers out to see them, somewhere in commercial settings, and some in different jurisdictions.

“And when they went out to see them, they thought there’d been a failure, but it was in a non-critical setting. So that was new evidence and new information…

“So I decided to take a very cautious approach. And I knew it was going to be difficult because, you know, obviously, for parents, for teachers, this coming so late in August, but that’s when we got the evidence that a panel had failed in a roof that had previously been classified as non-critical.”

She added: “I wasn’t willing to take the risk. It was just one panel, but it was in a roof that had been assessed as non-critical.”

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