The concrete crisis is creating a new 'lockdown' for children and parents amid culture of blame

(Photo: Alamy)

This week, parents everywhere have been labelling uniforms, buying bigger school shoes, and planning a peaceful week after a long, wonderful, chaotic summer.

But now, with no warning, over 150 school closures have been announced following a report on 'crumbling' concrete in school buildings, leaving parents and children alike in a limbo that's too close to pandemic lockdowns for comfort.

Children and young people are already anxious about attending schools, and this is a serious addition to the stress they are experiencing.

But it's not just schools; it's hospitals as well. Up to 34 hospitals around the UK are considered to be at some risk following further investigations. From politicians to headteachers to hospital managers, everyone seems to be blaming everyone else.

And as always, it looks as though the money to fix the problem will be slow to appear, leaving teachers, parents, and pupils worse off once again as they scrabble to adapt.

Why do these situations, known about long in advance, take a crisis to address?

Why does it take a Grenfell to deal with unsafe cladding, or the risk of a school disaster to make us replace concrete that has been counting down to its sell-by date for decades?

Have we forgotten the trauma that hit Aberfan when similar can-kicking took place in the 1960s?

As a working mum, my heart goes out to those parents who now have another crisis to adapt to, and to the kids that were already feeling anxious about school. But we desperately need a culture of responsibility rather than blame, a culture in which people can put their hands up and say, 'We knew it was coming, and we will find a way to fix it,' without being thrown under the bus.

We need a culture that helps this already anxious and disrupted generation of young people to be safe and confident in school. More than that, we need to see a shift towards investing in the full sweep of human flourishing, not just higher GDP and infinite economic growth.

If quality education and healthcare were seen as true priorities in themselves, repairing schools and hospitals would not be such an afterthought.

Rev Jo Trickey is Church Advocate at the London Institute for Contemporary Christianity (LICC).