Tuesday, 6 July 2010

Tough on schools, tough on the building of schools

What a master stroke. Faced with a changing economy where traditional 'hands on' jobs have almost disappeared, and faced with a debt that will need a well educated, high skilled work force that can see opportunities and have the skills to exploit them, the ConDem solution is to stop building schools:
The coalition government took its axe to a further £1.5bn in spending commitments, cutting £1bn from the schools budget and millions from the business department, communities and local government and the Home Office.

The announcement coincided with the education secretary's confirmation that the £55bn, 20-year Building Schools for the Future programme would be cancelled altogether. Some 706 new school buildings and services that already have contracts signed will go ahead, but 715 more will be scrapped.

Gove told the Commons that the scheme had been hit by "massive overspends, tragic delays, botched construction projects and needless bureaucracy". (1)
In the short term, this will have a a negative economic impact as the stimulus provided to the construction industry will disappear. It's longer term impact will be worse, as it will mean affect the education of children and thus the skills of people entering the work doleforce over the next generation.

What's particularly odd is that Gove seems to think that citing the speed and efficiency of the construction of Hong Kong's airport is a sound reason for stopping building schools:
He said: "There are some councils which entered the process six years ago which have only just started building new schools. Another project starting this year is three years behind schedule.

"By contrast, Hong Kong international airport, which was built on a barren rock in the South China Sea and can process 50 million passenger movements every year, took just six years to build — from start to finish." (2)
So his solution to supposed inefficiency is to stop trying. What a role model for our youth. When the going gets tough, the Gove just gives up and complains about how the shifty orientals do it better. God only knows what he would have done if he'd been in charge of evacuating the BEF from Dunkirk. "Oh, bugger it, it's a bit too hard, let's just leave them there to be captured."

(For what it is worth, Gove is being disingenuous - Hong Kong International Airport was first mooted in 1974. Construction started in 1991, and was completed in six years - but how many delays, overspends and botches marred the intervening period, he does not say. Also, it was a rush job, and was meant to be completed before the hand over of Hong Kong. As it turned out, it missed that deadline ...)

Good one, ConDems. Keep it up, you're doing brilliantly.
1 - "School building programme scrapped in latest round of cuts," by Polly Curtis. Published by The Guardian, 5th of July, 2010. (http://www.guardian.co.uk/education/2010/jul/05/school-building-programme-budget-cuts)
2 -
ibid.

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