A poll taken just before the European Union referendum showed that the majority of primary and secondary teachers across all age ranges were for remaining in the EU. In fact, just a week before the vote 70% were intending to vote in and 51% were sure that leaving the EU would have a negative impact on their students' prospects.
But what are the impacts, and what can we expect to happen to education if we leave the EU?
Nicky Morgan has expressed fears that leaving the EU and distancing ourselves from the rest of Europe will have a detrimental impact on students learning Modern Foreign Languages. While pupils will still be able to learn in class, schools may lose many of the native European language speakers who support the learning of MFL. Furthermore, it will be more difficult for them to visit European countries with their schools or their family, so children will have less opportunity to practice and develop their skills and build a better understanding and interest in other cultures.
Before Brexit won the vote schools claimed they will lose 400,000 teachers. Of course this is a hard number to predict, but you can understand that if EU nationals living in Britain lose some of their rights then they may decide to leave the country. We already have a teaching recruitment crisis and leaving the EU may exacerbate this problem.
On the other hand, there is also an argument that the stability of the public sector may mean that more UK nationals are attracted to the role of teaching. This could go some way to counteracting the teachers who decide to leave the industry because of the Brexit vote and the current teaching shortage.
The UK’s boarding schools currently cater for around 5,000 children from the EU and around 5.5% of higher education students are also from the EU. Leaving the EU could mean that they reconsider, and, as you can imagine, an exodus of international students could seriously damage our economy.
The Pound Could Weaken
Writing in The Washington Post, Valerie Strauss describes how a fall in the worth of the pound could mean that private education in the UK would be more affordable for international parents, which could mean that these schools can raise the prices and help bring more money into the economy. This of course would mean private schools would be less affordable for UK citizens and would also mean more immigration, which is the main thing many Brexit supporters were concerned with in the first place.
Less Funding for Schools
Nine out of ten economists have warned that leaving the EU will weaken the economy. This means that there may be less funding evalable for our schools. So schools will be looking to save money which may mean less resources available, lower salaries for staff or a number of other problems as schools make cuts to save money.
In terms of Higher Education there have been arguments either way on the effect of leaving the EU, with some like Wendy Piatt, director-general of the Russell Group worried about the fall in funding the EU provides for universities and others like the West London Free School’s Dr Priatt stating that: ‘Even if you deduct what we give to the EU and the EU then spends on institutions like the Russell Group, we would have £10bn left over.’
Out supporters have described how they are voting to help England improve and British people will become stronger and more united without the shackles and expense of the EU. Many teachers believe that leaving the EU will make England a less accepting, less diverse and all round worse place to live. There are a number of passionate articles explaining how this could affect the social and moral development of students, one of the most popular comes from Jon Dunford who writes: ‘We need to teach young people that diversity is a strength, not a problem; that immigrants contribute an immense amount to this country; that they are valued and respected as much as any other citizen; and that the world is a safer place when countries work together.’