This is not quite what The Observer recommends as a strategy but it is indeed what the correct strategy is.
You see, private schools – ones which raise their money directly and thus have some incentive to do what the funders would like – have been going out and getting their own Covid-19 testing machines. Sensible people will start saying how lovely this is. Saving the NHS and PHE money by doing stuff with their own resources. You know, like the education itself.
But no, this is apparently appalling:
For Jules White, headteacher and founder of the school-funding campaign Worth Less?, the stark inequalities inherent in the UK education system are being highlighted by the pandemic yet again.
“While fee-paying schools enjoy the luxury of private testing to keep their staff and students safe and their schools functioning effectively, the rest of us are being let down by a wholly inadequate test-trace system that is depriving children of the best opportunity to catch up on lost learning and ensuring that teachers and support staff up and down the country are put under yet more pressure.”
His state secondary school, in West Sussex, has been given just 10 emergency NHS testing kits to cover 1,500 pupils and 180 staff. By contrast, at Benenden School, which has 550 pupils and 400 staff, 25 tests have already been carried out this term, catching a couple of positive cases.
Apparently one of these machines costs £35,000. Which is about the wage a diversity adviser – or other similar non-job – will be paid directly. Not the cost of employing them, which would be about twice that, but their actual wage.
So, what is it that those private schools have done? They’ve looked at their budgets, note that the world has changed, decided to reallocate some of that budget. Which is what we all should do when the world has changed of course.
So too could those state schools. The current budget per pupil is about £5,000 a year. The average school size seems to be some 350 pupils. A £1.8 million a year budget. A 35,000 machine is 2% of that budget.
The world has changed recall. So the budget does need to be looked at to see how it should change. And moving 2% of a total budget around really isn’t all that difficult. Or shouldn’t be at least. Fire the one diversity adviser and we’re done in fact.
All of which gives us a useful insight into why private schools work so much better than state ones. That direct connection between income and production leads to flexibility as the world around changes. That insulation inside the state’s cocoon leads instead to bleating. And what is it that we desire? Action or bleating? Quite. Abolish the state sector, issue vouchers and plough Jules White with salt.