Tomorrow is the day for British people to vote on whether they want Britain to remain or leave the EU. Many people, wrongly assume, that British people living outside of Britain will vote: remain. In fact, nothing could be further from the truth; the opinion of the international British expat community is as divided as it is in the British Isles.
From my point of view, it’s thought provoking that this single, albeit hugely complicated, issue has divided as well as united people across opposing political and economic ideologies, as well as diverse religions, ethnicities and faiths. Even within business and trade there is no clear voice; some say the farmers want to stay and the fishermen want to leave; big business says stay, smaller companies say leave. Age also isn’t a clear indicator of how you are going to vote although it is said that the younger generations, if it doesn’t rain and they aren’t watching football, will, generally speaking, vote to remain.
The only constant in this referendum campaign is that both sides have behaved despicably; both have used scare tactics, hatred and paranoia to bully, threaten and misinform the general public into voting for their side. This behaviour makes me ashamed to be British and it is far removed from the things about Britain and British people that I admire cherish and love.
Now, if the British community are divided, what does the international community think? Well, in a nutshell, and, very tongue in cheek:
- The French: The EU started without Britain and we will continue without them.
- The Germans: Britain; it’s a weak nation with under-performing processes, waste, and a rubbish football team.
- The Italians: We hate the British, they have no sense of style, they are not good-looking and they can’t make coffee. However, we love David and Victoria Beckham.
- The Spanish: Stay; united we are stronger. But, if you vote no, we’re not going to like you.
- The USA: So, are you saying that Europe is a continent and that London isn’t Europe? Anyway, we don’t care about your tiny insignificant little European bubble we’ve got far more pressing issues with who’s going to be the next president.
- Russia: We are not interested. It is not of our concern.
- The Irish: The Brits are such a crac; they say stupid things, they don’t know a potato from a cabbage and despite the fact that they kept bombing us and stealing our women we want you .
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Before Sharon Gray became headteacher in 2009, inspectors had placed the underachieving school in special measures. Ofsted issued a “notice to improve” when Sharon took the helm, after she pleaded with authorities to give the failing school a chance.
She says: “I promised everyone I could get the school to outstanding. “Many didn’t believe it was possible, but I was determined. I wanted to do it for the children because I thought it’s what they deserved. “I believed it wasn’t them failing, it was the system failing them which didn’t seem fair.”
It was Sharon’s awe-inspiring flair for inventing projects to engage her pupils that helped to change the school around. This year she staged an “alien landing” that involved the whole school in a week-long investigation.
Children and parents arrived one Monday morning in March to find a fire engine and police guarding a large white tent in the school field, with strange sounds and billowing smoke.
The “Look Deeper” project was developed by Sharon with the help of her deputy, and two other staff members.It worked on communication and language skills and it led to excited discussions among pupils about scientific experiments.
Sharon has also encouraged the community to participate in school life, involving parents in developing a school farm, and by issuing shops with “good behaviour cards” which they could hand to well-behaved pupils.
Sharon invented the scheme, the Integrity Awards, to encourage children to behave when there were no teachers looking.
Now, while the majority of children enter the school significantly below national achievement levels, a majority leave at or above the national average, including some who take GCSE maths exams at the age of just 11.
One parent, Gemma Nason, says: “If it hadn’t been for Sharon, my son, who suffers learning difficulties, wouldn’t be in a mainstream school.
This year the school achieved an outstanding Ofsted report.
As little Harley lay and hovered on the brink of death from meningitis, doctors made the heartbreaking decision to amputate his arms and legs to save his life.
Then just a toddler, Harley pulled through and fought back against what could have been a devastating disability with inspirational spirit and determination.
Harley simply refuses to let his missing limbs hold him back in life. The cheeky schoolboy even completed a grueling 1.5km race on his false legs to thank the hospital that saved him.
If you want to read more about this inspirational child, then please click here.
After nine years without a job, with no purpose and no future, Clifford Harding was facing life as just another unemployment statistic. However, one moment changed his life, and put him on the path to helping other young people from deprived backgrounds.
He has gone on to become a role model for youngsters in his community and developed a truly innovative way of teaching children maths that saw him rapping in the House of Commons. Clifford, who lives in Birmingham, had always found school tough. Suffering from dyslexia, he struggled to keep up with his classmates and failed most of his exams.
He remembers: “I didn’t know what I wanted to do. I grew up in a very strict household, and when I left school with no qualifications or job prospects I rebelled. “I was a bit like a caged animal breaking free and didn’t care that I didn’t have a job.”
As he approached the end of his teens, Clifford’s grandparents and mother sadly died in quick succession. “That’s when things became really bad,” he says. “I wasn’t interested in bettering myself and remained out of work for nine years.”I was causing trouble, getting involved in petty crime, drinking, loitering and smoking.” However, one day his benefits failed to come through – and that is when his life changed forever. He says: “It really upset me. But then I thought, what am I doing waiting for this money when I could get a job instead?”
Clifford managed to secure a cleaning job, and inspired by the big offices he was working in, he started to think about his future. He heard about The Prince’s Trust and made the decision to approach the youth charity for help setting up his own business, which started out as a children’s party company.