Daily Mail

Schools lead the way

- United Kingdom · Bank of England · England

AFTER a frac­tious and ex­as­per­at­ing sum­mer of exam chaos, hu­mil­i­at­ing U-turns, Covid shroud-wav­ing and union sabre- rat­tling, fi­nally some­thing to cel­e­brate on the ed­u­ca­tion front.

The start of the great re­turn to school yes­ter­day was the sin­gle most im­por­tant step to­wards get­ting Bri­tain back to some sem­blance of nor­mal­ity.

Even just weeks ago, there was sig­nif­i­cant doubt over whether it would be achieved on time. But in an up­lift­ing show of collaborat­ion min­is­ters, head teach­ers and par­ents have made it hap­pen.

True, there will be trou­bles ahead. There are still is­sues over dis­tanc­ing, test­ing and face masks, and there are bound to be some spikes in in­fec­tion, which will re­quire im­me­di­ate and con­certed lo­cal ac­tion.

But the process has be­gun on time. Thank­fully all par­ties agree that the de­te­ri­o­ra­tion in the men­tal health and ed­u­ca­tional prospects of our na­tion’s chil­dren sim­ply couldn’t go on.

Their re­turn to school is a mas­sive boost. Now it’s up to white-col­lar Bri­tain to fol­low the ex­am­ple and get back to the of­fice.

Re­cent fig­ures sug­gest that for all the trau­mas of the past six months, the econ­omy may yet bounce back more quickly than was an­tic­i­pated.

Man­u­fac­tur­ing ac­tiv­ity is up for the third month in a row, the hous­ing mar­ket (helped by the stamp duty hol­i­day) and car sales are ex­pe­ri­enc­ing a mini-boom and the Bank of Eng­land ex­pects GDP to rise by a record 20 per cent in the second half of this year.

But this re­cov­ery is merely em­bry­onic – and ex­tremely weak. If it’s to con­tinue, Bri­tain sim­ply must go back to work.

Only a mass re­turn to towns and cities will re­vive the myr­iad ur­ban busi­nesses that rely on foot­fall.

And it’s the only way to bring about the increase in pro­duc­tiv­ity needed to get Bri­tain back on the road to pros­per­ity.

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