Like many I was utterly bemused by some of the decisions made on which London boroughs would see their primary schools opening in the new year.

Clearly having children in school is the best outcome but this has to be balanced against the other public health considerations. A few weeks of education that can be caught up might not be worth the life-long cost of losing a loved one. While I fully expected all school’s to be closed I wasn’t at all ready for the irrationality of the decisions taken.

You would expect some pattern, but looking at data from the London Datastore and the list of schools that are open it looks to me much more like the correlation between opening and closing is much more down to political control.

How on earth can you suggest that Redbridge, with a case rate of 1,027 per 100,000 should have it’s school’s open, while Westminster and Kensington and Chelsea, with a case rate of half that, should be closed? Or keeping Greenwich open when six of the ten boroughs with lower case rates are all closed.

There are 32 London boroughs, ten will be expected to open schools. Of those nine are Labour controlled and one Lib Dem. Not a single Conservative controlled borough is expected to open primary schools.

You would expect some incompetence from the government, but at first sight this looks much worse than than.

Update: Redbridge was omitted by the government in error (because this isn’t the sort of thing you would want to double-check before publishing). I have updated that in the list, but think the central point remains: why have places like Hackney and Haringey open when many others are closed.

Update 2: I returned to this with some additional data to try to understand the decisions. I was still none the wiser.

BoroughCase rateControlStatus
Havering1,095Con (council NOC)Closed
Redbridge1,027LabOpen Closed
Bexley1,006ConClosed
Barking and Dagenham950LabClosed
Enfield949LabClosed
Tower Hamlets917LabClosed
Newham894LabClosed
Waltham Forest857LabClosed
Bromley825ConClosed
Haringey785LabOpen
Croydon780LabClosed
Merton776LabClosed
Hackney751LabOpen
Sutton747Lib DemClosed
Hillingdon743ConClosed
Barnet730ConClosed
Harrow726LabOpen
Hounslow708LabClosed
Greenwich705LabOpen
Lambeth696LabOpen
Lewisham696LabOpen
Wandsworth685ConClosed
Southwark673LabClosed
Brent632LabClosed
Ealing623LabClosed
Kingston upon Thames595Lib DemOpen
Islington593LabOpen
Richmond upon Thames593Lib DemClosed
Hammersmith and Fulham587LabClosed
Camden481LabOpen
Kensington and Chelsea476ConClosed
Westminster476ConClosed
Primary school opening status by borough, case rate and control. Data: London Datastore

2 thoughts on “Primary school closures: following the science?

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