Just woke up; what have we done? Answer – nobody actually knows.
Today felt like the exact opposite of the 2nd May 1997 when there was an almost euphoric feeling. A young Tony Blair walked into number 10 Downing Street and the promise of “Education, Education, Education”. I had simply not contemplated that we would really leave Europe. My whole adult life has been spent inside the European Union, including all its imperfections, with a continual background protest noise about leaving. When Johnson & Gove eventually appeared in front of the media they looked almost shell shocked; it’s one thing campaigning to Leave but another thing totally to rewrite the constitutional and political map of the United Kingdom. Scotland understandable now wants another independence referendum that may see them leave the United Kingdom. Sinn Fein is agitating for Northern Ireland to stay in Europe as part of Eire; a long term political goal and this is an opportunity to further their cause.
Labour MPs are gathering to produce a no confidence vote in Jeremy Corbyn who may follow David Cameron out of party leadership. Cameron’s short term political gamble to see off UKIP with the promise of an EU Referendum, arguably to be negotiated away as part of forming a new coalition in May 2015, may have changed Britain for years, decades or centuries to come. The only certainty is that the future is uncertain.
Forget the Conservative Manifesto, White Paper & Queen’s Speech
I’m no more able to predict the future than anyone else and given I thought we would Remain I might not be the best person to be making predictions today. However, following Jonathan Simons (@PXEducation), Sam Freedman (@SamFr) and chatting with Laura McInerney (@missmcinerney) today here are a few thoughts.
It is going to take an army of civil servants to sort out this mess; the New Department for Brexit will need just about every civil servant from every department across government. A few will keep the plates spinning back in their home departments but time for new legislation or initiatives is looking pretty thin. Someone is going to have to now write and negotiate the exit plan not just come up with a slogan and a bit of spin.
Don’t Worry About Academisation
If you don’t fancy being an academy press the pause button. Parliamentary time to battle through a new Education Bill, particularly one which is controversial, may not be forthcoming. The architects of a fully academised system may not be in such influential positions in the months ahead. It may be a convenient time to park an unpopular policy.
Don’t Rely on Fairer Funding
How many times we’ve attempted to bring in Fairer Funding I’ve lost count of. My hope was after a few difficult years then fairer funding would start to come to our aid. Blackpool is one of the lowest funded authorities in England so we were only ever going to benefit. London schools can probably breathe a brief small sigh of relief. With an uncertain few years ahead the “let’s give £350 million a week to the NHS” battle bus was soon in reverse; it may be we all face further cuts whilst this mess is sorted out. I don’t think we’ll see Fairer Funding implemented this Parliament.
The Disadvantaged Will Be More Disadvantaged
This sounds like the start of a John Tomsett post; this much I know about the disadvantaged and Brexit. Your disadvantaged pupils and families will need you like never before. When the economy takes a nose dive it will be the poor that lose out. Any economic cuts will hit them hard. Children will arrive more stressed and less ready to learn. Chaotic families are not a good place to be at the best of times; more academic progress and higher attainment often take a distant second place to surviving, keeping warm and putting food on the table. Life will once again teach these children and young people that they are not in control of their future; why work hard when you can’t influence the outcomes will be the mindset reinforced.
We weren’t exactly doing great things nationally to close the educational achievement gap. Brexit is hardly likely to accelerate progress towards greater educational equity for children from disadvantaged backgrounds. A younger generation who overwhelmingly supported Remain appear angry; their future has yet again been damaged by an affluent older generation.
“I’m so angry. A generation given everything: Free education, golden pensions, social mobility have voted to strip my generation’s future”
Adam Newman (@NewmanDipFa)
According to a YouGov poll 75% of 18-24 voted to Remain. They are young enough to possibly go through the storms ahead and hopefully see better times in the years or decades to come.
Whilst enjoying the Festival of Education today, speaking as part of a trio organised by Professor Coe (@ProfCoe) from CEM at Durham University, I’ve had a bit of a numb empty feeling. It’s not just the markets that don’t like uncertainty.