What are the Brexit implications for students, teachers and schools?
I found the messages shared by the media to be damaging and difficult for any ordinary person to access and make an informed decision. Instead, most of us had to rely on our needs and values and what we felt was the right thing to do. The 52%-48% split clearly shows cities, rural regions and other demographics such as age, indicative of a division across the country
To be honest, I was undecided for much of the EU referendum campaign. This was largely due to the fact that the benefits of being in/out of the EU were not at the forefront of our thoughts long before this election took place. I spent much of the campaign researching the facts and discovering what the EU had given me as an individual, an employee and as a family.
The morning after …
On Friday 24th June when I woke, I had a mixture of emotions. How was this process for you? Even though they were not entitled to vote, what did your students say to you in your classroom that morning Britain decided to cut its ties with Europe?
I’m still filtering through my thoughts now, as likely are the rest of the nation.
Since joining the EU in 1973, the year I was born in West Scotland, I have been living within The Single European Act (1987) to create an internal market; “an area without frontiers in which the free movement of goods and persons, services and capital is ensured.” In 1991, the Euro currency was formed before the European Union was established in 1993, the year I started training to be a teacher at university. In 2000, the morning of the new millennium, I remember being on the streets of Rome as ‘waiters laughed off the dilemma’ to convert simple items on the menu, from Lira into Euro cambiamento.
Being a Scot, having lived in London for the past 24 years, from 5am onwards I watched as the EU referendum results unfolded and soon after analysed the Leave/Remain map.
The streets of Westminster:
Later in the morning, standing outside my school in North Westminster, I heard David Cameron had resigned as I stood on the pavement to welcome our new year 6s and their parents to mark the beginning of their new academic year. It was their induction day at secondary school. As I welcomed parents, it was eye-opening to hear Nigel Farage declare ‘independence day’ for the UK ‘without a bullet being fired‘. Shame on that man!
It was re-assuring to hear students declare, “I’d never take a day off school for this man.”
As I stood on the street, I took a step back to look at the faces of the people I was smiling and talking to. Parents, colleagues and children of my community. On the surface, we talk differently, we look different and in some cases, dress very differently too. But deep within, we are all the same. We are men and women: we want the best for ourselves, our families and our community.
In those fleeting moments of thought, I remembered my childhood days living in all 4 corners of Britain, in sea-ports, villages and large cities where diversity was little or non-existent, or in some case lazy racism was still part of the vocabulary. (*this is 20+ years ago)
Living and working in London has given me the opportunity to eradicate my own stereotypes, to work on the front-line educating children who are our future. On Friday 26th June after school, as I sat in ‘late detention’ with a handful of children who had not followed school rules, a 14-year old girl said to me:
Sir, I’m from Germany. Will I be deported?”
For the past few years, there has been a huge push for teachers to promote British Values as part of the Teachers’ Standards and their working responsibility to embrace diversity and educate the children of this country.
What would you say to this child? It seems as if our work as teachers has been undone and we need to start all over again.
Image: DfE, Teachers’ Standards
‘Fundamental British values’ is taken from the definition of extremism as articulated in the new Prevent Strategy, which was launched in June 2011. It includes ‘democracy, the rule of law, individual liberty and mutual respect and tolerance of different faiths and beliefs’
Even though we and our students may (or not) be in shock about the decision, we have a duty to teach them all about the implications of a future – none of us know – will be for Britain. This includes something simple as a child’s future.
As John Howson says, “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.”