Brexit puts a ‘question mark’ over the future of the school workforce, Scottish education secretary says

The vote to leave the EU leaves the country in danger of becoming a ‘horrible homogenous blob of insularity’, one teacher warns

Scotland relies on workers from Europe to deliver education and other public services and that is now in jeopardy, Scottish education secretary John Swinney has said in an exclusive interview.

Mr Swinney called the arguments on immigration put forward by the leave campaign “repugnant”.

Many education workers – from teachers to speech and language therapists – came from Europe and without them public services would struggle, Mr Swinney argued.

“Our public services are to an extent dependent on the contribution made by European citizens and that’s very welcome and a good thing, an enriching thing, but we have now got a question mark put over that,” he said.

“I certainly want to make it abundantly clear to European citizens they are very welcome here in Scotland and we will try to protect their involvement in our economy.”

Richer picture

Teachers who have come to Scotland from Europe have also spoken out following the referendum result.

The vote to leave the EU puts Scotland in danger of becoming a “horrible homogenous blob of insularity”, said Barbara van der Meulen, an English teacher from the Netherlands who settled in the Western Highlands of Scotland more than a decade ago.

“All islands have a fairly insular culture,” she said. “Having teachers from other countries with funny accents and stories to tell and other languages to add – these things are very, very important. You need these other elements to bring a richer picture.”

Another consequence of Brexit on schools would be fewer staff at a time when the country was already in the midst of a teacher recruitment crisis, she predicted, explaining: “If we have shortages, we will need to look over the border.”

This is an edited article from the 8 July edition of TESS. Subscribers can read the full article here. This week’s magazine is available in all good newsagents. To download the digital edition, Android users can click here and iOS users can click here

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