Well, I am sure that all of those involved in Scottish Education slept a little bit sounder yesterday evening following some ‘cutting edge’ policy decisions. The new Cabinet Secretary for Education, Shirley-Anne Somerville, announced a number of measures to improve ventilation in classrooms where air circulation is poor and CO2 levels are high. One of these measures is to undercut the doors of these 2000 classrooms, leaving a wider gap between the bottom of the door and the floor, thus leading to improved airflow.
You really have to take your hat off to the Cabinet Secretary for this blue-sky thinking. Indeed, the First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, hailed it as an example of her Government’s ability to make ‘common sense’ decisions.
Of course, such high-end technological change to the design and format of classroom doors is neither easy, nor cheap. We can all understand that. Thankfully, the Government has set aside £300 000 for this much-needed and well thought through plan. Of course, whilst such spending is always described as Government funded, the reality is that every spending decision is taxpayer funded. I am delighted that my money (and yours) is being spent in this way. At the time of a (thankfully) waning pandemic, air circulation has never been so important.
However, on closer inspection, I worry a little at the cost. One of my proudest achievements was an A-grade in the now defunct Arithmetic O-Grade Examination in 1981. Anyhow, yesterday evening, I got out my pencil and paper and using the skills learnt many years ago, I worked out that cutting a slice off each door is going to cost us £150 a pop. Sheeesh…
After a late night whisky, I phoned my pal Bob. He’s got a construction company with about 40 employees, called ‘Bob’s Bargain Brickies’. I knew carpentry wasn’t necessarily a strength of his but I wanted to do my bit. After talking about football for a while, we got on to the more serious subject of education. We talked a lot about reducing the size of doors in the most cost-effective way and, within minutes, Bob gave me the number of one of his pals, Jimmy. To cut a long story short (excuse the pun), Jimmy has now sent me a quote, which is hurtling to ministers in the Scottish Government as we speak, for £90 a door, saving the taxpayer £120 000.
I know in the past, I have been at odds with many of the educational policies of this Government and have been fairly vocal with my opposition to some of the less considered decisions Government has made. But I think we’ve turned a corner with yesterday’s announcement. No more sleepless nights for me, no more ‘Grant Rants’; just a quiet appreciation that the finest minds in the country are working hard for all of our benefit.
That said, I’m always keen to offer my own solution to such educational conundrums.
Why not ask the teachers of the 2000 classrooms in question simply to open their classroom doors and keep them open. You can pick up nice little door wedges in B&Q for £4.99 each.
Anyway, what do I know?