Waking up to the news that the United Kingdom has voted to leave the EU is a disappointment. Oxford, along with cities such as Cambridge and Bristol, was one of the few places outside London to vote strongly in favour of remaining. However, I am not surprised by the overall result. My previous post, on the speech by The Chief Inspector about the failure of our education system to provide an education for all, recognised the deep gulf that has opened up in England and parts of Wales between those that have gained the most across the board from the past half century and those that feel impoverished by the direction of travel the country has taken. This feeling of impoverishment and associated alienation has nothing to do with any economic benefits the region where they live may have received.
The irony is that those voting to leave the EU could in some measure be dependent upon those that voted to remain if the economic miracle those advocating leave believe can happen is now to come about. The entrepreneurial success of parts of the country must be broadened and deepened. To that extent the aim of a northern powerhouse is a good move, but 20 years too late.
On the more narrow focus that is of direct interest to me, I wonder what the outcome of the referendum will mean for the staffing of our schools. One scenario has lots of young graduates, the group that voted mostly strongly to remain in the EU, looking for teaching posts overseas. At the same time, the unknown number of EU trained teachers working in schools across England may re-consider their position here and also look either to return home or seek another post overseas. On the other hand, those from EU countries where unemployment is still high and where teaching pays less than it does here may wish to remain, if allowed to do so. In any teacher shortage that might develop it must not be the least advantaged that suffer the most, for access to a high quality education remains a universal right regardless of the political grouping to which we belong as a country.
A fall in sterling will be good news for independent boarding schools offering an education to those from across the globe, as it will become cheaper to study in Britain. For the same reason, universities may find attracting students from overseas slightly easier, although presumably once Britain leaves the EU all students from overseas will pay the same in fees.
Personally, I will continue to fight to ensure that Britain continues as an outward looking, tolerant and liberal society where Human Rights remain important. Education plays a large part in achieving this goal and it must be protected in any of the possible hard times ahead. I do not want to become a member of a vassal state of either the USA or China, instead of a full-member of the EU, should these superpowers use any period of economic uncertainty to harvest UK assets at a bargain price.