Ofsted annual report: Poor schooling in the North contributed to Brexit vote, Wilshaw says

1st December 2016 at 12:24
Reasons for EU departure included a sense that 'our children are not getting as good a deal as elsewhere', Ofsted chief claims

Under-performing schools in the North of England contributed to the vote to leave the European Union, Ofsted’s outgoing chief inspector has claimed.

Sir Michael Wilshaw said the state of education in areas such as Liverpool and Manchester had fed into a “wider malaise” that led to the Brexit decision.

He was speaking ahead of today’s launch of Ofsted’s annual report, which again highlights a North-South divide in secondary education, which he said had “widened slightly” this year.

Speaking to the BBC in Manchester, Sir Michael said nearly one in three schools in the city were not rated good, with the situation worse in Liverpool and satellite towns.

'Part of a wider malaise'

He added: "It's feeding into a sense that the people of Liverpool, Manchester and the North are not being treated fairly – that their children have less of a chance of educational success than people south of The Wash.

"And that's feeding into a wider malaise that I sense with the Brexit vote, that actually this wasn't just about leaving Europe; it's about 'Our needs being neglected, our children are not getting as good a deal as elsewhere'.”

Sir Michael said there was a need for greater emphasis on the importance of technical knowledge and skills, particularly in the wake of the EU referendum.

He said: "As a nation, we are at a crossroads. We can intervene to inject the system with the vision, skills and energy it needs, or we can be content with the status quo and the consequences of that failure.

"With the prospect of an imminent departure from the European Union, and a potentially seismic shift in how skills are drawn into the workforce, this cannot come too soon."

Sir Michael also praised schools' success in allowing different cultures to integrate, and said work must continue to spot risks to social cohesion.

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