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Another Guardian Headline We Can Answer



Why are English schools being left to pay for Covid measures out of threadbare budgets?
Paul Whiteman

Because there’s 10% less of everything Paul.

You may have noticed – what with being involved in the education system and all that I’m sure you’re literate and numerate – that we’re in a recession at present. As far as we’ve got actual official information at present we’ve about 10% less of everything than we had back in February. The Office for National Statistics says we dropped about 20% of GDP in the second quarter, gained back 6% or so in July, we can assume that more was made back in August, we think we’re about 10% down.

GDP is everything. It’s – and these three will each be equal to either of the other two – all production, all consumption or all income. So, we’re producing about 10% less. That means that we can all, collectively, consume about 10% less. What we’ve got less of is not evenly distributed to be sure but the base calculation is still true. Our great big pile of everything is 10% smaller than it used to be.

So, why don’t schools have more? Because we’ve got less.

No, this isn’t something that the magic money tree – sorry, Modern Monetary Theory – can deal with right now. Nor is that true of an anti-austerity push, of Keynesian economics, nor even of my own inamorata, capitalist free marketry. All of those are potential solutions over time, manners by which we might get out of this situation of having the 10% less. We can argue about which will be the most effective in doing so but it is still true that none of them will solve the problem today. We have 10% less therefore we have 10% less.

Why are schools having to do difficult stuff with not very much? Because we’ve got less than we used to Paul. And sure it’s a pity but there we are, that’s why.

Paul Whiteman is general secretary of the National Association of Head Teachers

Next time there’s some part of the big world out there that confuses you why not try asking teacher? It’s possible that you might know one or two.




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expunct (ɪkˈspʌŋkt)
VERB (transitive)
1. to delete or erase; blot out; obliterate
2. to wipe out or destroy

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