Why Brexit chaos would have benefits for UK schools

Top academic says crisis could boost teacher numbers but says schools should have taught 'benefits of the EU'

Martin George

Becky Francis said that any economic crisis caused by Brexit could be good for teacher recruitment.

A post-Brexit economic crisis could help address England’s teacher recruitment challenge, a leading education academic has said.

But Becky Francis, director of the UCL Institute of Education, also warned that Brexit would disadvantage pupils in other ways and said there had not been enough done in schools to market "the benefits of the EU".

And she said that prime minister Theresa May's failure to resign over her handling of Brexit risked damaging young people's faith in politics. 

Speaking during a discussion at the Global Education and Skills Forum in Dubai about the impact of Brexit on young people Prof Francis said: “I think you could say actually teacher training in the UK is counter-cyclical.

"We may end up, actually, with more teachers if we have an economic crisis post-Brexit.

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“So you could say, given that we have a teacher recruitment crisis in the UK at the moment, actually education may yet have some unintended benefits from Brexit.”

However the government has said that its plans for a new immigration system after Brexit could hit teacher recruitment from the European Economic Area.

Prof Francis warned that young people in Britain “absolutely will” be disadvantaged by Brexit, compared to young people in other EU countries.

And she said that young people who were not able to vote in the referendum were “excluded and disenfranchised”.

“There’s a question about integrity in our politics," the academic added. "Our prime minister still stands, after the worst outcome in a vote in House of Commons I think ever, and then the third worst.

“People aren’t resigning as they ought to and I think that sends out a very unfortunate message to young people, in terms of faith in politicians.”

She also told the audience that school curriculums had not taught children about the benefits of the EU.

She said: “I think the EU failed with its marketing with the UK. It’s right to say it has been a perennial issue and politicians have used it as a scapegoat.

“This comes back to the area of education, because what we haven’t had in our curriculums in schools or for the population as a whole is the benefits of the EU. We have hardly ever heard about the benefits, including the success of no wars in Europe since the Second World War.”

The panel was also asked about the rise of populism, and distrust in the elites.

She said that social inequality and the “lack of buy-in or understanding or reflection on our roles as citizens” can and should be addressed by education.

She said: “In the UK for a very long time citizenship education – it’s got a complicated acronym in Britain: PSHE – has been just a basket for a load of random government agenda – preventing terrorism or preventing online stalking, and so on and so forth, and that just gets thrown into that curriculum, rather than a real engagement.

“I would like to see the equivalent of PPE – politics, philosophy and economics – being offered to school kids through the citizenship curriculum.”




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Martin George

Martin George

Martin George is a reporter at Tes

Find me on Twitter @geomr

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