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Blog > Building a community > Time to reassure your school leavers that your community is here to stay!

Time to reassure your school leavers that your community is here to stay!

Reflections from my college reunion on the eve of the UK's ominous Brexit referendum

Christ Church, University of Oxford
Christ Church, University of Oxford
Two thirds of the British electorate spoke yesterday in an impressive display of our democratic process – whatever your views you have to admire the nation’s persistence to make it to the polling stations, come rain or shine.

Last night, on the eve of Brexit, I joined a couple of hundred fellow graduates of my Oxford college, Christ Church, for a reunion “Gaudy”, named from the Latin word “gaudium” meaning “merry-making”.

I sat amongst lawyers, teachers, fund managers, traders and journalists who couldn’t quite believe the great British people would actually vote us out of the EU.

Most of us, Gen X Londoners, were firmly in the Remain camp, and although we did our best to be merry, we also slept anxiously with our phones by our pillows in one of the closest election results of our time.

The lawyers will have a busy few years ahead as we disentangle ourselves from four decades of EU legislation and trade agreements.

The business folk are fearing a slow down and investment impasse.

The teachers are wondering what they’ll tell their classes this week and whether the 23rd June will become a seminal moment in British history.

But what does Brexit mean for alumni and development offices at schools and universities around the country? The answer: like the Glastonbury festival I’m just on route to – pretty muddy.

Today we’re facing a falling pound, falling UK stocks and a hole in our political leadership. The bookies have 5 to 1 odds on Michael Gove – who was a very controversial figure as Education Secretary – as the next prime minister (third most likely after Boris and Theresa).

The CASE (Council for Advancement and Support of Education) Europe team fired out an email this morning, whilst reeling in shock, to reassure us of their continued commitment to “advance education” for their members.

More than 1,000 of us will be gathering in Brussels at the end of August for the Annual CASE European conference – let’s hope there won’t be any fisticuffs around the coffee tables. I won’t be waving my union jack, that’s for sure.

We can assume UK education policy-making will be slower and more complicated in the year ahead.

In the words of Schools Week editor, Laura McInerney: “Well there goes any progress on schools policy. Instead we’ll now get a 3 month bloodbath as Labour & Tories disappear into their own naval”.

If you were struggling to understand the specific implications of the Ethrington Review or the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation you won’t be any clearer now!

It’s unlikely there will be major policy changes concerning data privacy – the UK’s information commissioner, the ICO, and consumer watchdog, Which?, have both been consistent in pushing for tighter data protection so this ship has set sail, although there might be changes to the rules about where personal data is stored (e.g. will it have to be within the UK, as opposed to the EEC?)

We can also assume some bewilderment from this Summer’s school and university leavers – a YouGov poll estimated 75% of the 18-24 yr age group voted to Remain – unfortunately this group representing our future workforce are under-represented in referendum voting numbers.

What world are these Millennials stepping in to? Probably a more expensive one if they’re setting off backpacking abroad this Summer with GPB in their pockets…

Be sure to invite your leavers to join your alumni network before they go – and reassure them that your school community is not one that will be breaking up any time soon.

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