“British exceptionalism” must catch up with the 21st century.

The government had the entire summer to deliver CO2 monitors to all UK schools. They haven't. What now?

Last week, scientists have joined forces with teachers, unions, and parents to present Education Secretary Gavin Williamson with an urgent nine-point plan to keep children and communities safe. The plan includes: vaccines for 12 to 15-year-olds and investment in ventilation in schools.

School leaders – while welcoming CO2 monitors – are right to ask why the equipment was not delivered for the start of the new school term. We have known about the importance of ventilation in fighting Covid-19 for some time now.

According to SecEd, the secondary education magazine for teaching staff and school leaders:

  • 517 CO2 monitors are due to be delivered this week to only 41 schools;

  • 7,727 CO2 monitors are due to be delivered to a further 561 schools next week;

  • 4,997 CO2 monitors are due to be delivered during the week of 20 September to 406 schools.

By the end of September, 1,008 schools should therefore have received CO2 monitors.

But how many schools are there exactly in the UK? There are 32,028 schools*, including:

  • 3,069 nurseries & early-learning centres

  • 20,807 primary schools

  • 4,190 secondary schools

  • 2,345 independent schools

  • 1,536 special schools

  • 58 non-maintained special schools

  • 349 pupil referral units

A total of 32,028 schools, but only 1,008 schools could receive CO2 monitors by the end of the month?

Who are they kidding?

Did they not have plenty of time during the summer to deliver half of them and make sure the remaining material could be delivered at least by the end of September?

From a government that prides itself on “British exceptionalism”, we ought to wonder: when will their Brexit Britain show some sort of efficiency and actually catch up on the 21st century?

All 32,028 schools need CO2 monitors now! ■

(*Source: Department for Education; Welsh Government; Scottish Government; Northern Ireland Department of Education – 2019/2020)

(Cover: Flickr/Number 10 — Education Secretary Gavin Williamson. — CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)