Education boss Sir Michael Wilshaw says Britain voted to Brexit because of “resentment” in deprived areas about the poor standards of education in the North.
The Ofsted chief said people felt alienated in the poorer communities of northern England. Releasing his fifth, and what will be his final, yearly Ofsted report into the state of the country’s education, Sir Michael said the difference in education between the north and south was particularly marked at secondary school.
Sir Michael said that there was also a knowledge and skills gap which was proving to be a major threat to the British economy as it prepares to leave Europe. The traditional Labour heartlands in the north were the ones which voted for Brexit during the June referendum.
Sir Michael, who steps down from one of the top roles in education next month, said that the Brexit vote was a result of a large swathe of society feeling they weren’t “getting a fair crack of the whip.”
He added: “They sense that somehow their children are not going to get as great a deal as youngsters in London and the South of England.nIf they sense that their children and young people are going to be denied the opportunities that exist elsewhere, that feeds into a general sense that they’re being neglected. It wasn’t just about leaving the European Union and immigration, it was that sense of a disconnection with Westminster.”
The education chief said he feared that there could not just be a growing economic divide between north and south, but a learning gap too. His report revealed that the numbers of high achieving pupils in the North and the Midlands who went on to do well in their GCSE exams was lower in the south. The percentage of good and outstanding schools in those regions also rose at a slower rate than in the south.