Countdown to Brexit: Richard Bell, CEO of Specialist Education Support Network

Richard Bell

With the countdown to Brexit quickly ticking away, Business Link Magazine invites a select number of the region’s business leaders to offer their thoughts.

Here we talk with Richard Bell, CEO of Lincoln’s Specialist Education Support Network, on whether Brexit will affect Education.

“With all the discussions, debates, outcries over Brexit, and the impact that this will have on local and national businesses, we rarely talk of Brexit in terms of Education.

“Has there been so much focus on the UK parties’ debates over Brexit that all energy and attention has been sucked out of those areas that matter the most?

“So how will Brexit affect Education in the UK if at all?

“Similar to businesses and their international trade, Education relies on partnerships with European and Non-European Economic Areas with increased international studies and appealing to international students as well as teachers. We therefore have to consider the business community concerning the interaction between foreign language skills and the export potential of UK firms, and considers the future language requirements of the UK.

“By the end of 2020, the Erasmus+ student exchange programme will have allocated €1 billion to the UK and 250,000 people from the UK will have undertaken study or training abroad under the scheme.

“There were 4,795 QTS awards made to qualified teachers from European Economic Area (EEA) in 2015-16, a 10% increase from the previous year. However, official Government figures released last year showed that secondary school pupil numbers are set to rise by more than 600,000 over the next few years. According to TES, 47,000 more teachers will be needed with an extra 641 teacher trainees in modern foreign languages needed to start work in schools by 2020. Following Brexit, the population of the EU which speaks English as a first language will decline from approximately 13% to 1%. This has provoked speculation about the future influence of English within the institutions of the EU.

“The Government has said that school funding is at “record levels”. This is correct in terms of how many pounds are in the budget, but inflation and increasing pupil numbers mean per-pupil funding has fallen since 2015. One can only be worried whether the Government can ensure that public funding for education is used responsibly and appropriately and not further devalue what is already an underfunded sector.

“Right now however, it is difficult to determine whether Brexit will have an impact on Education as a whole due to the multitude of indirect factors.”