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School Concrete Scramble – Topical Tuesdays Activities from First News

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The start of the 23/24 school year was thrown into chaos for thousands of pupils, as well as their parents and teachers, since the Government told more than 100 schools in England and two in Wales to shut because of unsafe concrete.

This resources pack includes an article from First News, along with a sheet of activities designed to get children thinking, talking and writing about what the story means to them.


The chance that school buildings might become unsafe has been known for a long time. Is it right, then, that the current government should be blamed for not acting sooner? Are ministers justified in trying to avoid responsibility?

Shouldn’t we be praising our leaders as much for when things go well as for when they go wrong, as the Education Secretary suggested? Or is it right for people to get annoyed that this problem has not been fixed already?

Isn’t it fair to point out that the government allocated far less money than was needed for repairs? Shouldn’t politicians understand before they accept important jobs that they will be criticised when things go wrong? What do you think?

Writing skills

Write a letter to the Prime Minister explaining what you think children should expect from their school on the first day of a new academic year. Make sure it is polite and reasonable but still includes persuasive language and follows the conventions of a formal letter.


When a political party wants to be elected, it publishes a manifesto – a detailed list of promises about what it will do when it is in government. Write your own manifesto about what you promise to do during this new school year. Try to make it honest and achievable so that, if you get the chance, you can look back at the end of the year to see how your performance matched your intentions.


Find out which schools the last five to ten British prime ministers went to. Challenge: for each school, show whether it was free (funded by the government) or if their parents had to pay to send them there.

What is First News?

Launched in May 2006, First News is the most trusted weekly newspaper for young audiences, covering global headlines and empowering children with an understanding of the world in which they are growing up.

To find out more about how First News could help your school unlock the power of news-based learning, through high quality, weekly resources alongside the print and digital newspaper, visit the First News Education website.

  • News story
  • Activities sheet
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