Children packed new pencil cases and donned new uniforms as they set off back to school, but one thing nobody had on their 'first day back essentials' list was worrying about whether a school ceiling might collapse.

The week before schools opened, the Department for Education suddenly announced that more than 100 schools should shut buildings because of ‘RAAC concrete’. Pupils, parents and teachers were shocked.

Reinforced autoclaved aerated concrete (RAAC) is a lightweight, weaker alternative to concrete that’s deliberately made to contain air bubbles.

It’s sometimes described a bit like an Aero chocolate bar. It was used in the building of schools and hospitals during the 1950s to 1990s, and now it’s starting to crumble.

In St Albans, no schools needed to close but, as a precaution, three have been asked to undertake urgent surveys on account of the years they were built.

Around the rest of the country, details slowly started to emerge as MPs pressed for answers on why this action was so last minute.

The government accused some schools of not returning ‘RAAC surveys’; some schools hit back saying they’d returned them ages ago but, the department for education had either lost them or simply not acted.

One MP revealed that a school in their area had been given a phone number for a RAAC hotline - only to have it answered by a completely different government department!

As the week unfolded, MPs honed in on one big question: how did it come to this?

In 2018, a primary school ceiling fell down (luckily at a weekend when empty), and experts were clear that the Government needed to move faster to deal with the RAAC problem in schools.

But when the Prime Minister Rishi Sunak was Chancellor, he rejected pleas by officials for an extra £900 million a year for school funding, instead giving tax cuts to big banks that would have been more than enough to cover the amount needed.

As the Prime Minister faces calls to come clean over his own role in this crisis, what matters most, is that parents and teachers can know as soon as possible that their schools - and their children - are safe.