Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Building Schools...

I have a degree of sympathy with Hopi Sen here – it is inevitable that when a Government is seeking to make significant cuts in public expenditure many things that are cut are valuable and worthwhile in themselves.  You can’t eliminate a £150bn deficit solely by reducing Government advertising and Home Office ‘peace pods’.  But I also have a lot of time for Toby Young’s view here, that the BSF was a colossal boondoggle.  It’s hard to argue that this was an efficient use of money:
 
The process of applying for BSF investment was so fiendishly complex that, collectively, England’s local authorities spent an estimated £250 million on preparing their bids, with £60 million being spent on consultancy or advisory costs. That’s £250 million just to fill in the forms, so plentiful was the red tape.
 
Be that as it may, school would obviously have preferred to have had money available for rebuilding works.  But there is one further point that I would make here.  The prep school I went to taught its top-years in a post-war prefab that had been slated for demolition in the 1960s.  When I went back to play an old-boys’ match a couple of years ago it was still there.  The public school I went to, one of the three public schools Lord Peter Wimsey deemed worthy of the name, educates its boys in Victorian class-rooms, sitting at desks complete with ink-wells.  The House I boarded at even retained its archaic study-cubicles, although they had been updated to include one light-fitting.  Scholars, lucky dogs, lived in an apparently unrenovated 14th Century building.
 
Sometimes the age of the buildings is an uncertain guide to the quality of the education.

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