Tuesday, 16 June 2020

Basic Geometry for Politicians

Nicola Sturgeon doesn't seem to be very good at maths or science but that doesn't stop her trying to get Head Teachers to square a circle and pour a quart into a pint pot (1.14 litres into a 568ml pot for the young amongst us). She's absolutely wedded to the 2m social distancing rule and so schools have been planning the return of pupils on that basis. Basic geometry dictates that if pupils have to stay 2m apart from each other and the teacher, the maximum class size in an average classroom will be 10 instead of 30. That's why so many schools were, until yesterday, planning on having pupils back one week in three. John Swinney had even invented a term for it - 'blended learning'. Now teachers have had to go back to the drawing board because our populist First Minister realised yesterday morning that the Education Minister's plan was not going down well. You've heard of pester power. Now we have parent power and a hashtag #usforthemScotland. We even have a former First Minister wading into the row.

The result of all this is that Nicola has now learned what happens when two objects collide - the smaller one goes into reverse. Forgetting the 2m rule, Sturgeon now wants kids back at school full-time as soon as possible. If only she wanted businesses back open as quickly, but then economics is another of her weak points. It's not wrong for a politician to listen to people, or for parents to want their kids back at school, but full-time education for all plus 2m separation is an unsolvable equation. Even 1m social distancing makes it impossible. So which is it going to be First Minister? School or social distancing? Calton awaits the answer with interest, as will many businesses.

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